WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson today issued the following statement in response to Ronnie O’Sullivan’s decision not to sign his players’ contract:

"Following yesterday’s news about Ronnie O’Sullivan, I’d like to clarify the WPBSA's position in relation to the official players' contract and end the misconception that players are being ‘forced’ into playing certain events.

“The contract is there to protect the players’ income derived from the tour, and the sport as a whole. Once players have signed the contract they are free to choose which events they wish to play in.

“The contract was sent to the players by World Snooker following an extensive consultation process with the WPBSA in which we engaged our lawyers. It is the WPBSA's duty to ensure that all of the players are treated equally and therefore it is our belief that all players should sign the same contract.

“We do not believe it would be in the interest of the membership as a whole if one player was allowed a different contract which could give that player additional appearance money.

“The World Snooker Tour is expanding rapidly and consistently on a global basis and it is set to grow further. We are looking for the support of the players as a whole in order to assist this growth.

“Ronnie O’Sullivan of course is free to sign the contract at any time during the season which would make him eligible to play in World Snooker events, but it is important to note that signing the players' contract does not in itself compel any player to enter any World Snooker tournaments.”

Ferguson seems to be suggesting that O’Sullivan wanted appearance money on top of prize money to play a full season. World Snooker sources have told me the same thing, although I'm sure there are other issues with the contract which trouble the world champion.

There was a meeting yesterday between Barry Hearn and O’Sullivan’s manager in which the contract was discussed but Hearn is adamant no player should be paid appearance money by the game’s governing body.

He is right. It would set a terrible precedent. The money is there to run the tour and pay prize money.

However, if individual sponsors and tournament organisers want to pay appearance money then they have every right.

So the Chinese snooker authorities are within their rights to offer O’Sullivan – or anyone else – additional money to play in their events.

This happens with the big names in golf and tennis. It’s one of the perks of being a top player.

One of the downsides is that you get people in your ear telling you that you’re worth more money or should be treated differently to everyone else.

I think O’Sullivan probably is worth appearance money for the amount of people he brings to the game – but not from World Snooker.

I also don’t think this dispute is entirely about money, but it would be naïve not to believe that it has been a factor.


TheGreenBaize said...

I think you have got it spot on in this blog Dave.To be honest I'm a little disappointed with this statement from Jason Ferguson.He seems to be hanging Ronnie out to dry a bit by basically saying its all about money.As you say it probably is a factor but I'd really love to read through one of these contracts before I make my mind up fully on this

147 said...

Dave in a world where bankers and politicans are pillaging the public purse with absolutely no benefit to the public here we have the world champion refusing to sign his contract because it is onerous well i for one fully agree with o sullivan here on the grounds that each and everyone one of us are entitled to the fruits or our labour be that financial or otherwise.Ronnie o sullivan packs out the arena every time he turns up that is a fact and his image in money terms is immense.I am not suggesting that he receive special treatment as far as the contract is concerned but if by not signing the contract, he may be putting pressure on those who do control the purse strings to rethink their position.Not having the world champion and the biggest draw in the game at an event devalues it entirely.Make no mistake about it a battle has begun and the outcome will determine the path snooker takes for many year to come.

Anonymous said...

When do you think o'sullivan will return he said when he won the world title he was having 6 months off if so do you think it will be at the rld championship in december. To say he's quit by some stories is a bit premature because he loves the sport so much.

Anonymous said...

If the WSA want to pay some players appearance money then that is their prerogative; it is basically something for the market forces to determine. Personally speaking I think he is worth 20/25k if you can guarantee him being there, especially when negotiating contracts. Depends how much he asking for really, but if it is realistic I think it would be in the interests of the sport.

Anonymous said...

If, as Jason F says, the contract DOES NOT oblige you to play in all the events, then there must be another reason for Ronnie not to sign it.

Anonymous said...

He'll be back. If O'Sullivan doesn't sign it as it is, why should he sign the same contract later in the season if it hasn't been revised? Hearn WILL give him a different contract but it won't be made public.

Anonymous said...

The WSA give the players the opportunity to earn prize money and fame by providing them with a televised tour to compete on. All players have a duty to put something back and be loyal to the game to ensure the future of the game for generations to come. If players want to earn money outside the tour they have that choice and obviously some have more opportunity than others but no player should expect to be paid extra to appear on the tour. No player is bigger than the game.

Roland said...

"However, if individual sponsors and tournament organisers want to pay appearance money then they have every right."

Is this true Dave? A bit of debate about what the score really is regarding sponsors paying appearance fees on Snooker Island.

I think some people need to get the idea out of their heads that World Snooker pay appearance money - they are the governing body and should never be in a position to pay appearance money. I don't see any other sports governing body paying appearance money. If sponsors want to do it though to guarantee the big names play in their events then nothing should stop them.

Dave H said...

That's right. WS shouldn't pay it, individual sponsors have every right.

Anonymous said...

Regardless of money- or other contract issues, Ronnie will be back as defending world champion. Nobody in recent years has successfully defended it and he wants to try and get that 'record'.

Before or even after the 2013 WC, we may not see a lot of him.

kildare cueman said...

O'Sullivan has said on many occasions that he doesn't like travelling so he probably would have missed most of the events anyway.

He is near the end of his career and is more or less a "part time" player now. He can command large fees for exhibitions and is effectively sacrificing those fees to play in events he doesn't really want to play in the first place.

He's right to chance his arm and try and maximise his earnings before he retires. Similarily Hearn is right to refuse his request, in the interest of fairness to all players.

Snooker doesn't need O'Sullivan. He is a huge asset no doubt and will be missed when he goes, but the game will still flourish after he goes, just as it did after Alex Higgins slipped off the tour.

In the meantime Hearn must do what he thinks is best and O'Sullivan can now decide whether he wants to be a part time pro or whether he walks away.

Either way, he owes nothing to snooker.

Anonymous said...

Excellent two articles on the Ronnie O'Sullivan situation, Dave, it explains the real reasons which aren't explained in your bog standard news article.