The Premier League, an ever present fixture on the circuit since 1987, will undergo a major format change this year.

There will be ten players involved – an increase of three – and each night will be a mini four-man tournament in its own right, with a winner.

Each of the ten players will compete in four of these mini-tournaments. Points earned will decide the top four who will compete in the play-offs.

These semi-finals and finals will be best of five frames. The shot-clock will be reduced from 25 seconds to 20 for the first four frames. The miss rule has been changed so that players will have three attempts to make a legal contact. If they fail to do so, ball-in-hand anywhere on the table will be awarded to the incoming player.

If any of the matches reach 2-2 the decider will be played under the Shootout rules: a maximum of ten minutes with a 20 second shot-clock for the first five minutes and 15 for the next five.

Prize money for the eventual winner has doubled to £60,000 but there will no longer be £1,000 a frame to play for.

So why the change? Promoters Matchroom felt the Premier League had become a bit stale and resembled a series of exhibitions.

In fact, it’s always been that. The League’s great contribution to snooker has been in taking top players around the UK to places not usually served by the game, as well as providing some big paydays for the game’s leading lights.

The financially lucrative nature of the Premier League means it rates much higher in many players’ priorities than audiences may think.

I’ll reserve judgement on the new format until the event starts – on August 18 – but the first observation is that it is no longer actually a league. The players will no longer all play each other.

There is now a simple qualifying structure for the event. The field is made up of winners of last season’s major tournaments, plus Matthew Stevens, who won the Championship League qualifier.

Tenth place has been awarded to Jimmy White, who won the World Seniors Championship. This means Mark Selby, the world no.3, misses out.

On the face of it, choosing White over Selby is highly questionable given that they are separated in the rankings by 52 places.

However, Selby didn’t win a tournament last season. If he had, he’d have been in.

And although White has undoubtedly been shoe-horned in, if I were the promoter – putting up my own money and looking for a return through ticket sales – I’d have him in the tournament without hesitation.

The complete field is: Ronnie O’Sullivan (defending champion), John Higgins (World champion), Ding Junhui (Masters champion), Mark Williams (German Masters champion), Ali Carter (Shanghai Masters champion), Judd Trump (China Open champion), Neil Robertson (World Open champion), Shaun Murphy (PTC Finals champion), Matthew Stevens (Championship League winner) and Jimmy White (World Seniors champion).


David Caulfield said...

Can't say my initial response to this new format is welcoming but we'll see. I have been wrong before in the last 12 to 15 months.

wild said...

Ive never thought of the PL as a Major and really cash should not be a gauge as to whats worth winning or not although its a Help financially it does not add prestige.

but now there is no doubt what the PL will become a Joke event with cash at the end of the day.

ill enjoy it on a Thursday but will not care who wins or loses just like a Exhibition.

Betty Logan said...

Sorry but it sounds shit.

Anonymous said...

ive followed snooker for 25 years. rarely missed a tourneament and attended many many times in person.

i for one do not agree with this change and it will be the first PL i will not watch.

lastly, no matter the format....the decision to include Jimmy (and not selby or someone else) is shocking. i cant stand watching him these days (though loved him years ago)

bye bye PL

Anonymous said...

"And although White has undoubtedly been shoe-horned in, if I were the promoter – putting up my own money and looking for a return through ticket sales – I’d have him in the tournament without hesitation."

and that is exactly why the PL Was never a major event.

Kelly said...

I think Selby deserves to get playing in PL this year though he did not win a title. He did so well throughtout the season. I cannot say Jimmy does not deserve to play because he did win a title. No doubt the promoters will pick Jimmy instead of Selby cos he is really popular. May the promoters consider to pick someone who stands out in the season but unfortunately not winning a title next year?

It's hard to believe shootout rules can be used in PL... I wish it will not mess it up.

We'll see if the revolution works in August...

Armbrust said...

I agree with wild. With these changes PL will become a joke. Especially with the new rule changes (ball in hand, shoot-out format in fifth frame). In my opinion with this changes it's not even a snooker tournament any more, but snooker variation.

Anonymous said...

this actually sounds worse than power snooker ended up being...and that is BAD

jimmy winning a title has nowt to do with it, no matter who says it is. hes been shoehorned in as hes popular and hes ronnies pal. the ticket sales for these events are always v good.

luca becel should have got the wildcard for it IMHO

gus_gorman said...

Well i must be the only one to welcome the changes!
Why not i think,if it doesn't work then try something else.

It did seem to be getting a bit stale,i could understand if radical changes were being made to the worlds that there would be uproar! but the premier league??

Give it a go i say! And on the subject of White,i think you all need to remember that himself and Davis are the last of the old brigade,and the fact he is still a pro shows the true quality of the guy.
Ive been a fan of his (and Davis) for years,he is the reason i started playing! the public love the guy and he does bring in the punters.

I just hope he produces what he can and good luck to him!
You could talk all night about he should be included,this and that but he won a tournament!
And betty your comment was inane.

Sparky said...

What if next season's title winners include Rory McLeod, Peter Ebdon, Mark King, Dave Harold etctera?

Will it still be the same qualification criteria?

The organizers were lucky that(save for Selby) all the "right" players won titles last season!

Anonymous said...

well as shootout champion Nigel bond should be there hes the only player to have won a tournament using 20 second a shot.

Anonymous said...

Of all the dumb comments Betty comes out with Gus decides to take a pop the one time she/he is spot on. Obviously an even bigger tool than Logan and Brannon. Bond should be in White should be out.

Anonymous said...

Why would a promoter put Nigel Bond in a tournament instead of Jimmy White?

Do any of you people live in the real world?

Anonymous said...


he won a wooden spoon event

if cliff thorburn had won that do you think hed have got in the PL?


job for the boys

ok, its barry bag, but a shocking decision all the same

Anonymous said...

good call on Bondy

wins a tourney with a shot clock and live on sky

jimmy wins a small invitation event for old codgers and gets in....

easy to say the criteria was tourney winners, but thats done after the ones he wanted in are in.

at least just say, this is who i want and its my ball

ive said it beofre and i will say it agian:

PL records, centuries etc should not be kept as part of a players record in major tournaments, by any stato. its even more a joke now with the shot clock reduction

continue down this slippery slop and we will have call shots that result in loss of frame if you miss, just for tv

Anonymous said...

Wasn't a big fan of the Premier League format when it was revamped for Sky in 2005, but feel it did come to establish its own place in the scheme of things.

Can't see myself being a fan of this though.

And apart from anything else, the one thing that really puts me off watching the Premier League is the endless round of pointless "interviews" Andy Goldstein does with the players. Under this format, I suspect there'll be even more of that.

Barry's done wonderful things over the last year or so, but this looks like a bad move to me.

Matt said...

I think it was about time that the PL was given a change though it remains to be seen as to whether this is the right one.

Really though I'm not that bothered as while it is good entertainment and a great night out, it is ultimately not a major tournament from my perspective.

Can obviously understand why those competing in it would have a different view with the sums of money involved though.

Also interesting to note that they are trying the whole 'three misses and it's ball in hand' rule as well, bit of a trial run for the main tour perhaps?

gus_gorman said...

thats a matter of opinion 'Anonymous' lets not get personal.
Just branding it @@@@ is not exactly contibuting to the debate.

Betty Logan said...

Dave's blog is hardly the Oxford debating society, Gus.

Anonymous said...

No Betty it's the Cambridge debating society.

snookerbacker said...

I've never liked the PL anyway so not really bothered about these changes, just as long as the miss rule ball in hand changes are kept to this event then that's fine, it's always been a circus anyway and now it's moving even further away from being a snooker event. But anything that draws in the young audience and gets them interested in real snooker is obviously a good thing and it can't be any worse than Power Snooker.

If I was Bond I would feel a little aggrieved, I wonder if he hadn't been part of that daft failed mini coup earlier in the season whether he might have qualified? Never bite the hand that feeds and all that.

But as a promoter, you want the bums on seats players there and Bazza didn't even have to explain why they are there, he could have just picked them as he has in the past, so at least he attempted to explain why Jimmy was invited. Selby hasn't won an event and to be honest he isn't exactly the best to watch these days is he?

odds-n-sods said...

Barry should have just been honest and said that Jimmy puts bums on seats rather than using the naff Jimmy won the seniors, as others have said Nigel Bond's win was more significant but Bond doesn't put bums on seats. It is becoming a bit of a farce, perhaps we'll be seing Eric Bristow in premier league darts action soon?

Anonymous said...

The Premier League has always been a joke tournament, yeah it's good fun but it's not proper snooker and this year it will be even less so. Having Bond, Selby or White in won't make any difference to that.
At least it's not Power Snooker.


Dave H said...

Maybe there should be an award for the most ignorant comment.

The Premier League is not a 'joke.' It has provided hundreds of fun nights out for snooker fans who don't usually get to see the game close-up with a chance for autographs and pics, huge paydays for players and snooker on the telly.

It was conceived as a typical Barry Hearn venture: something different. No doubt if the internet had been around in 1987 it would have been slagged off incessantly before a ball had been struck.

Anonymous said...

It's also the fourth longest running tournament in the game - some joke!

Mignon said...

Alpha, that was a partial, uninformed and silly remark! THAT was a joke (and not a very good one), not the Premier League!

I might help get a sponsor for that 'most ignorant comment' award, Dave! lol

Anonymous said...

Perhaps next year's Premier League could be played by players only wearing brightly coloured jockstraps,on roller skates, with a 5 second shot-clock, using sticks of rhubarb instead of cues.
Hearn has been great for snooker but he has got this spectacularly wrong. It should have been left as it was.
I've got a particular affection for the Premier League because I saw Hendry's first competetive 147 (against WT). I didn't mind the 25 second shot-clock but that was enough.
I know it's £60,000 to the winner but he will save a lot of money by not offering £1,000 per frame and per century.
Please Barry get a grip and don't make snooker and the players a laughing stock. The way things are going we'll see Mr Bean and the Chuckle Bros given wild cards next!

John McBride said...

While the Jimmy White inclusion over Mark Selby can certainly cause a debate, what seems to be flying under the radar is this piece....
"The miss rule has been changed so that players will have three attempts to make a legal contact. If they fail to do so, ball-in-hand anywhere on the table will be awarded to the incoming player."

It will be interesting to see what becomes of this particular piece.

Personally, I've always found the PL to be enjoyable. The interviews at the beginning of each match has the personal touch, which I like, & I also like the idea of the PL introducing new initiatives. The shot clock was first introduced & is still there, seems to work for this particular format. So let’s give this seasons PL another chance eh?

Anonymous said...

well, i never said it was a joke, but despit david and a couple of others making valid points in their opinion i still reserve the right to call it a joke....and i think it is.

it would be fins if all it was was an invitational tournament etc, but some people keep records of who makes centuries and 147s in this type of event, which is a bit ott

its a bit of fun. isnt REAL snooker and its more of a joke now than its ever been.

shootout was good
power snooker was terrible
pl was watchable before but its a gimmick now

Betty Logan said...

A 5 second difference won't make much difference to the pace of the match but will probably make a huge difference to the quality. Most average shot times are in the 18–22 second margin, so at 25 seconds most players can still more or less play their natural game; at 20 seconds you're going to have many more easy misses and only save a few minutes on each match. I can live with the five frame matches (draws always bugged me to be honest), but no need for the changes to the miss rule — the players rejected the proposal, the BBC Pulse thing rejected it, so accept the decision and move on. If anything is ignorant it's not accepting the wishes of the players and the fans to not tinker with the actual rules of the game...

Anonymous said...

your best post ever on here betsy!!

jamie brannon said...

The event is not a joke and think this new variation may cut the mustard, but have reservations about the reduced shot clock as to me that could dilute excellence, which is what Hearn is meant to be about.

However, I enjoy the nature of this event with it's UK roadshow feel.

We have to wait and see though before launching into serious criticism.

The White decision is probably wrong. See the point Dave makes, but with White or not, the event sells out so not sure if in this case it is neccessary to shoehorn him in.

Although personally am a big admirer of the 1992 UK champion, so wish him well.

Anonymous said...

so Jamie, about 5 main changes and you dont like 2 of them right away but we cant be allowed to give a negative opinion until we see it?

yeah right

it sounds crap.

if others think it sounds crap, theyre entitled to.

if its not crap, i, and im sure many others, will post saying i thought it was going to be crap and it isnt.

Anonymous said...

Nobody wants to watch selby or Bond. White was a good choice.

Anonymous said...

i would much rather watch selby or bond in ANY competition than Jimmy.

10 years ago, no, or JW playing as he did back then or further back, no, id rather JW, but today tomorrow and for the next 5 years at least i can safely say id rather watch MS or NB than Jimmy.

Gus_gorman said...

well whatever happens it's sparked a big debate!
Better comment there Betty!
Dave you are spot on there as well.

jamie brannon said...

I made a slight criticism of reducing the shot clock but hardly dismissed the event in it's entirety.

The White decision has nothing to do with the format.

Until we see how it can you launch into stinging attacks wholesale.

I know what a 20 second shot clock means and I know Dave has also raised the point that shot clocks don't neccesarily raise the standard of play.

Anonymous said...

Among all the changes to this year's PL we should spare a thought for Matthew Stevens. He hasn't had the best of times over the last few years and he worked his butt off to qualify for the PL. He must have thought, even if he didn't get through to the playoffs or win it he could pocket a nice few bob. Then, SURPRISE!, the goalposts are moved and the money is vastly reduced unless you win the whole thing.
It's one thing to make (stupid) changes but prospective PL players could have been made aware of this beforehand. If it was me I'd be spitting feathers.

Anonymous said...

i bet the average shot duration at the last wc or the last china open was above 20 secs

even if u take out the first roumds to compensate for worse players

20 is a total joke

Trevor said...

Dave i have a question regarding century breaks in this new pl format.if the deciding frame of these matches is played under the shoot out rules.will they count towards players totals ?. As the shoot out centuries did not count.surely if some centuries count and other do not it would turn this tournament into a farce.

Anonymous said...

trevor, its already a farce.

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