There’s an iconic shot of Alex Higgins facing the press after his six-tournament ban for headbutting an official at the 1986 UK Championship.

Higgins takes a call from a ludicrously over-sized mobile phone – and early model – and is then asked if he can survive without snooker. Quick as a flash, he responds: “can snooker survive without me?”

It was typical Higgins: bold, brash and biting. However, we soon found out the answer: yes. Snooker did survive because snooker is bigger than any one player.

Even so, it is a blow to the sport that Ronnie O’Sullivan has today announced that he will not be entering the Premier League and forthcoming WPBSA tournaments. He has described the players’ contract as ‘onerous.’

He said after winning a fourth world title that he would be taking a six-month break. I suspect that actually deciding to follow through with this will not have been easy for a player who has played professionally now for 20 years.

I think World Snooker’s attitude is that O’Sullivan is no different to any other player, that they all have a choice whether to play or not.

There are two points here, though:

1)    O’Sullivan, as world champion, is seeded second for all tournaments other than those in which he is defending champion. His world ranking – this season at least – therefore doesn’t really matter so he can afford to be more choosy.

2)    He is the game’s leading box office attraction. He is the player who has done more than any other in the last 10 years to attract people to snooker.

However, I don’t believe World Snooker should pay the players appearance money. If individual sponsors want to do so then that is within their right.

The Premier League is a long established tournament but is not regarded as one of snooker’s majors.

However, it is an event O’Sullivan has dominated in recent times, winning it on ten occasions. It is a competition which seems to suit his temperament: short, one night matches rather than long weeks away from home.

I’ve never seen a players’ contract so am in no position to comment on them, although a few players have expressed concerns about some of the stipulations.

Stephen Hendry retired in part because the crowded schedule did not allow him to pursue promotional engagements. To lose one legend from the circuit may be seen as unfortunate, to lose two perhaps is more serious.

But professional snooker should not be arranged around a couple of superstars. World Snooker exists to promote the game, to provide playing opportunities and to reward players who are successful.

I hope Ronnie enjoys his break. I hope we see him back playing his seductive style of the game later in the season.

In the meantime, snooker continues.


wild said...

i think if That contract not signed by the Wuxi Classic then its so long close the door on the way out see you in May 2013 with the next contract.

Dave H said...

Players can sign the contract at any point in the season, but can't play in tournaments until they have.

Anonymous said...

You dont have any idea no more than the rest of us !

Trevorp said...

Dave thats not right surely what wild is saying.if the contract is not signed by the wuxi you would have to wait til next may i find that hard to believe.

Anonymous said...


I know a number of TV contracts stipulate that the World Champion and World number 1 will be at the venue. How will this be affected now.

Also I noticed that WPBSA have re-opened the entry for Australia as they are two short of the number of top 16 players required.

How will this affect the draw if they now enter and do you think this is right?

Dave H said...

I didn't know they'd done that but surely once the deadline passes for entry then that should be that

Anonymous said...

With regard to Aus, it is up on the WPBSA site, available to enter with today as the closing date

Anonymous said...

I think we will still quite a bit of Ronnie in China where he will be paid by sponsors to be a wild card.

Firstly I would hate to be the low seed and draw him, and secondly, Hearn should close that loophole now.

Anonymous said...

where is the article on the WPBSA site? I can't see it

Anonymous said...

It is in the entry system, available to players with their log on details.

kildare cueman said...

Theres no story here. He said, before he won the German masters that if he had to qualify so be it, so obviously wasn't considering retirement. After winning the WC, he said he was taking a six month break, and really, who can blame him.
Hes earned the right to pick and choose, hes financially independant, and from a fans viewpoint, this is infinitely preferable to retirement, or no shows after entering.

snoopy2608 said...

Australian Draw now on WSA site. Others not entered are:

Trump, Williams,Maguire, Higgins, O'Sullivan, Allen, Dott

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure Hearn was happy with Ronnie picking and choosing what events he entered before. Plus John Higgins is missing some of the earlier events and has signed the contract.

There must be something else in the contract that he disagrees with, because it's obvious it doesn't state that you have to enter every event.

Or maybe he just likes the attention.

Anonymous said...


is there a fear that due to the amount of money given to players through sponserships and promotional events, that more players will be less committed to the main tour, similar to the 20/20 cricket indian premier league

Anonymous said...

attention seeking idiot
great player though

Peter Norrie said...

Giving Hearn complete control was always a dangerous thing to do. First Hendry, now O'Sullivan... who's going to be Next - Mark Williams?

Snooker players should be like pro golfers - independent contractors, able to enter whatever Tournaments they want to.

wild said...

Dave H said...

Players can sign the contract at any point in the season, but can't play in tournaments until they have.


I Know however thats wrong if they dont sign start of the season with everyone else then Goodnight Vienna.

Anonymous said...

You can call or sending a message to the german eurosport commentator Rolf Kalb ---> he´s reading the players contract of the Season 2010/11, if u have any interests in that case.

Anonymous said...

Pretty simple story really: he wanted appearance money to play, Hearn told him no way.

So now he's actually going to lose money. Great strategy.

Newsfox said...

Snooker players were independent contractors - sadly they turned a globally popular game into a virtually bankrupt business.

John Higgins and Mark Williams were great players but they did not promote the game like Davis and Hendry. Instead Higgins almost dealt a death blow to the game in the UK by his spectacular idiocy and Williams behaves like a juvenile or worse.

Ronnie is self indulgent too. Someone needs to sit him in a room and get him to repeat "I have never had a job" 1000 times.

What is sad is now it seems Judd Trump is following suit.

TEN ranking events lads. That's all you have to do. Ten. Pathetic beyond belief.