Paul Mount, who owns and runs the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester, host venue for this season’s UK PTCs, has issued a statement in response to a letter sent to the WPBSA by the Snooker Players Association.

This letter lists a number of complaints from players, including being charged to use practice tables and for refreshments.

Here is the SPA letter in full:

Regarding PTC events.
While at the PTC1 in Gloucester the SPA was bombarded with complaints from our members, No players lounge, having to pay for tea & coffee, and not being able to bring there own food into the premises, Some players do not live on pie and beans or toasties, some players have a special diet such as vegetarian or vegans, one thing that annoyed the players is that the refs and officials had there own tea facilities and also brought there own food in, such as fish and chips.

Practise tables, players are aware that other PTC events don't have practice tables, but when they are asked to pay £4 to practice, it shows that facilities are there to be had.
I had a meeting with Paul Mount and he explained that world snooker were penny pinching and with charging him £10,000 to hold the events at his venue, and with all his overheads and staff ect to pay for he has no choice but to charge players for tea and coffee, practice facilities ect.

Talking to Paul he has said that for the sake of £500 WPBSA could have recovered the two spare tables and practice could be free, The SPA feel this is a small price to pay to keep its members happy. £4 is a lot to pay for players who are on a very tight budget, while at a venue player like to practice at least twice a day.

Our members say that practise tables help break up a players day, one player told me that he had the most boring day of his snooker life.

Prize money.
Players are finding it hard to meet expenses, the feed back is that the prize money is not spread enough, you and I  have talked about this on many occasion, and the SPA feel that if any player wins a match he should receive some prize money.

Players are saying if you run a factory and you had 128 workers you don't say right I want you to work but only 64 of you will get paid.

Players are christening it as the minimum wage tour.

Jason Ferguson, the WPBSA chairman, replied to the effect that it was a matter for Mount how he runs his academy building.

Mount’s response to all this is as follows:

After a very arduous week, preparing and running PTC1,(average of 16 hour per day) for myself and each member of permanent and temporary SWSA staff I have been asked to respond publicly to several complaints about UKPTC1. 
In the interest of openness, I would like to explain my position and more importantly the position of the SWSA.

Before discussing details I would like to point out that the SWSA is a limited company, limited by Guarantee. This means that the Directors guarantee that all profits go to designated charities of our choice and not to shareholders.

Since the SWSA opened it has cost in excess of £120,000 per year to keep operating, all of which has been covered by myself and my profit making companies. I have never taken a wage from SWSA or any other of the snooker companies I own. Call this naivety or, as I prefer, a benevolent attempt to help develop snooker from grass root level and upwards. Either way it seems to be insufficient for some people.

It is my target to develop the SWSA so that it can operate profitably or at least break even. To do this it needs to be run as a business and operate within the boundaries of any contract it enters in to.

I, on behalf of the SWSA, entered into a contract with World Snooker Ltd to provide a venue for all four UK PTC’s.

I was and remain happy with the contract I negotiated directly with Barry Hearn and have not complained about its contents to WSL or any other persons. It enables us to provide a first class venue and facilities whilst at the same time the scope to carry on normal business activities to cover our costs for the five day period of the event.

I had an amicable meeting with Les Barton, Director of SPA, at UKPTC1 to discuss complaints the SPA wanted to make to me on behalf of their members. I did talk with Les, as a bone fide representative of the players, about some aspects of our contract with WSL but I will not go into detail in public as this is confidential information between WSL and SWSA. Suffice to say I did explain our overall costs  and why we charged for table time and coffee to help pay for those costs.

It is worth pointing out that if I did not charge for table time the cloths on the practice tables would undoubtedly need replacing shortly after the event to maintain the standard of playing surface we strive for and the likely cost for that would be in the region of £700. Should the SWSA reasonably be asked to cover that entire cost and the costs of refreshments for all the players?

As far as catering is concerned we offered a variety of food including ploughman’s lunch, soup & Roll, pies, pasties, a variety of sandwiches, toasties, cold bar snacks and plain Toast. With the available space we have, and our focus on providing the best playing and spectator venue we can, there is no space for advanced catering but there are a range of pubs and restaurants within 1-2 miles that cater for all tastes. Leaving the venue for a hot meal may also prevent boredom, which is an alternative to practice for those players unwilling to pay £4.

The reason that no practice was available on Friday and Saturday was because the practice room, which WSL did not require as part of the PTC agreement, had been subsequently hired by World Snooker to make promotional photo shoots of the players.

Another misconception is that SWSA based players have an advantage. Let’s be clear; all match tables were covered on Monday and they were out of action to everyone until they were used in the PTC on Wednesday evening. In effect SWSA players had to share our remaining two available practice table with everyone else who booked tables for practice. In reality this meant they had no sustainable practice all week.

We do not allow food and or other refreshments to be brought into SWSA for two reasons. Firstly it will affect our chance of covering our operating costs and secondly we are left with disposing of a large amount of waste and cleaning up the mess.

A closing observation - Since the PTC we have held a full summer school and have just started the European Open Under 18s junior championships which includes 72 players from all over the globe including Russia, Hong Kong, Malta, Belgium, Israel and Germany.

All of these players and their families have paid to travel to Gloucester and stay in Hotels with the hope of winning a major trophy and a modest financial prize.  I wonder if I should be surprised that not one of them has complained about paying for refreshments or using the tables.

Reading between the lines, Mount appears unhappy that a private conversation with an SPA representative was made public when the SPA put their letter to Ferguson on their website.

Mount has made his millions through his other businesses but is a life-long snooker fan and has built a first rate facility as well as raising money for cancer charities close to his heart. He is a good man with the right intentions.

World Snooker charge £10,000 for staging rights so the SWSA have to look to claw this back somehow.

Back in the ‘good old days’ the bar in the players’ room was free to anyone. I was once told it cost the WPBSA £20,000 per tournament in free beer.

Thankfully there are now business principles being applied to a sport which not so long ago had serious financial problems.

The SPA make good points, though, about prize money, much along the lines that I made not so long ago.

But if they want to be taken more seriously then they have to operate in a more professional manner.

Just recently they invited players to take advantage of a deal with a bookmaker offering a 10% refund on losing bets for sports including snooker. World Snooker saw this as an enticement to bet on snooker, which players are banned from doing.

Snooker was, I suspect, included in all innocence by the SPA but it certainly didn’t look good.

The WPBSA was originally the players’ union. The problems began when it tried to fulfil commercial and rules and regulatory activities as well.

Over the years, managers have proved more influential in redressing problems than attempts by independent bodies, but self evidently managers tend to be interested mainly in their own clients.

Players could certainly benefit from a body such as the SPA but only if it is taken seriously by the sport at large.

My suggestion to them is to focus on important areas such as prize money because if a victory can be won here it will make a big difference to players lower down the rankings.

There are also issues which would be better addressed privately so that people such as Mount – who snooker needs – don’t feel unfairly maligned.


Anonymous said...

Pauls a great guy.

How did Les become SPA rep?

Is he one of the poker playing crew, appointed because he was friends with players?

John F said...

Given some of the spelling and grammar in that letter, whoever wrote it should be thankful that they can make a living from snooker, as there definitely won't be a proofreading career to fall back on.

The prize money situation will keep on running, but surely this should be an issue for Barry Hearn, not Paul Mount?

Would some players prefer going back to the years of 6 or 7 tournaments, when low-ranked players (e.g. David Morris) could win a few matches yet not earn a single penny?

Anonymous said...

How can you take the SPA seriously when the two guys running it can't even compose a letter without laughable grammatical errors?

Anonymous said...

some players have a special diet such as vegetarian or vegans

Lol, I hope Peter Ebdon wasn't promised confidentiality!

Anonymous said...

the SPA feel that if any player wins a match he should receive some prize money

Isn't this the case? I was under the impression that all last 128 winners got paid?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of David Morris (as someone was earlier this thread) does anyone know what's happened to him?

I know he dropped off the tour and I don't think he tried to get back on through Q School.

So has he decided to pack it in, or is he just taking a break and hoping to come back in a year or two for another go at it?

Anonymous said...

has david morris packed in snooker i thought he would be better than ken doherty however the most natural player i ever seen from ireland was joe canny

Anonymous said...

As for the player who had the "most boring day of his snooker life", what exactly does he expect SWSA to do about that? Does he want Paul Mount to take him to the park and push him on the swings?

Anonymous said...

I can't understand why Paul Mount has to pay World Snooker anything, anyway.
Surely World Snooker should be paying him for the use of his facilities?
Who is it who has to cover the costs of reclothing the tables?

Anonymous said...

Paul Mount seems to have a very expensive hobby.

Anonymous said...


of course World Snooker pays Paul Mount £10,000 its pretty clear in the article how did you miss read that ?

Anonymous said...

Paul Mount is a lovely guy. He has all the attributes you would want from a person, who is involved with snooker.

He is the most friendliest, generous, kindest person you could meet. What he has done for snooker in the past 2-4 years, is more than any other individual, or business has ever done.

If it was not for his pure love of the game and his genorosity, we would not have this wonderful accademy, sponsorships for all his pink army, and the benefits for his cancer charities.

To be able to criticise a man who has put is heart & soul, and his hard earnt money into snooker, is quite beyond belief.

Just a few years ago, snooker was not far from being bankrupt. Paul Mount came into the picture, decided what he could do to help the players, knowing what a precarious state the game was in, but still decided to invest his money.

Barry Hearn came along and has cemented a great future for world snooker, and still we seem to still get those players/people that are never happy. What is wrong with them.

I can understand that the lower ranked players should get some prize money for the first rounds etc, but this is down to Barry Hearn, not Paul Mount. This needs to be addressed Urgently, as the expense for players is far to great, and it is not fair.

As for the whinging abouit costs at the accademy, that also is down to world snooker. If they are charging Paul Mount £10.000 an event, he has to recoup this somehow, and though it seems a bit out of order to pay for practise tables, the money has to come from somewhere.

Why world snooker have to charge Paul Mount to stage these events, is a bit tough. I could understand it a few years down the line, if these events started to make money, then 50/50 would be a fair deal, but it does seem a bit money grabbing of them at this moment in time.

As for the player moaning about the food, and not being able to bring their own food in to eat, are you having a laugh. What club or premises that sell food and drink let you bring in your own! Would they let you take your own bottle of beer or coke into a pub to drink, or take your ownn rolls or burgers into macdonalds or a cafe to sit down and eat. I don't think so, so dont be so pathetic.

At the end of the day, Paul Mount has to make some money to pay the bills. He doesn't take a wage, everything goes back into the company to help pay the costs and for charity.

People should stop whining about petty problems and just get on with it, before the likes of Paul Mount say, 'Hay, i had a go and tried to help, but it was jus not good enough for you, Sorry', and then walk away from snooker for good.

The SPA need to act more professionally if they want to act as the players body, and work with the likes of Paul Mount, and not try to make him look bad. What were they thinking of in divulging private conversations. Just trying to make themselves look good.

Would like to know how much money the SPA put up out of their own pockets to help the players. Not a lot i would of thought. They are more worried about how much they might make themselves, i would not be surprised.PS: Do the spa get a salary??

Anonymous said...

Anon 10.48 AM,
Is that you Les?

Anonymous said...

The player who had the most boring day of his life could have played sudoku.

Anonymous said...

Les Barton is a brilliant guy, he came as a guest at our Scottish Snooker Golf day raising funds to help our junior players.
The auction was going terrible untill Les stepped in and bidded for the last 8 items, saving the auction from being a desaster and emptying his pocket to over £1000 .

Anonymous said...

i dont think anyone is saying les is anything but a good guy. i know les and his brother quite well.

perhaps people wonder how he "got the job"

Roland said...

Well said 4:09pm

jamie brannon said...

The peak audience of 18.5million viewers for the 1985 world final has been eclipsed as a record for a post-midnight audience on UK television. The Olympics opening ceremony was being watched by just over 20 million at midnight.

As an aside, would people want to see snooker in the Olympics?

For me, it would be a no. It would be for the same reasons I don't agree with tennis and football in the Olympic portfolio. An Olympic snooker event wouldn't be seen as the pinnacle of the sport.

Anonymous said...

What the hell has snooker in the olympics got to do with this topic.

People should stick to the topic being blogged.

Very annoying.

Anonymous said...

Let's not kid ourselves, while the world championship supplies a sterner test and a greater prize than what the olympics possibly would, it would offer snooker a truly international platform: a snooker event broadcast all around the world. Tennis and Football already have that with the Grand Slams and the World Cup/Champions League, but snooker does not. It would have been a huge boost to the international credibility of the game. With the game's popularity in China as well, the Beijing and London olympics have been two missed opportunities for snooker.

Anonymous said...

to my knowledge,
Les and Bobby Barton took over SPA when the problems with Pat Mooney happened they were the only ones willing to take over,they notified Barry Hearne of there intentions,to which he replied ,good and can you keep me posted

Anonymous said...

thanks 849 did u rite the lettar?

jamie brannon said...

I see this as a place to air views on snooker, but unfortunately people are getting pedantic about that what snooker topic can be discussed.

I don't disagree with what snooker may gain from it, but feel the Olympic needs to become a bit more of a condensed programme of sports, featuring the sort of sports that fit the Olympic ideals.

For example, a portfolio containg sports where the the four-year Olympic cycle is the focus of what they do. It would just viewed as a consolation prize, much like how it was for Andy Murray yesterday.

I understand he looked pretty pleased to do it, but Federer played at nothing like the intensity he did in the real Wimbledon final, and it just felt a bit strange and uncomfortable.

Anonymous said...

Any person involved in the SPA do not draw a salary, it is purely operated by volunteers who put in their time and efforts for free.

With reagrds to whoever wrote ....."Would like to know how much money the SPA put up out of their own pockets to help the players. Not a lot i would of thought. They are more worried about how much they might make themselves, i would not be surprised.PS: Do the spa get a salary??"

As I understand it Les and Bobby pay for their own expenses, for anything to do with the SPA.

They are not involved in the SPA for financial gain but for the good of snooker and the interests of the Players. They do not need to earn a living from the SPA as they are each businessmen in their on rights and have both been very successful.

On a personal level they have even, in the past, assisted Players financially.

I am sure that if anyone wishes to know the answers to their questions cited above, that if you put them to either Les or Bobby that they would answer them for you.

Re World Snooker charging Paul Mount £10,000 - this is correct.