From time to time, someone involved in the snooker world will contact me privately to take issue with something I have written on this blog. These conversations are usually amicable, occasionally not.

I welcome them. If you run a blog then you should be accountable for what you write.

Today, the Snooker Players Association chose not to contact me privately but publish on their website and circulate a diatribe against this piece I wrote about Paul Mount’s decision not to stage any further World Snooker events.

Therefore, I shall publically respond.

The SPA’s Les Barton wrote: “Your early comment in this article regarding the meeting between bewteen [sic] SWSA and SPA intimates that the SPA meeting played a significant part in the fall out.”

In fact, I did not. What I actually said was that the main point of conflict is with World Snooker.

The clue was when I wrote this:

“The main point of conflict is with World Snooker.”

I did reference the SPA’s letter of complaint about players having to pay for practice facilities and other issues because I had already written about them and some readers may have felt that Mount’s decision was based on his reaction to them (he did, after all, issue his own statement about the SPA’s criticisms).

So, actually, I was trying to make clear the SPA were not to blame and that Mount’s displeasure had been based on contractual issues with World Snooker, which I then laid out based on the best available evidence.

Barton states that: “You have skillfully avoided confronting the true protagonists and attempted to deflect some of the blame towards the SPA. For what reason only you and you alone know, where as we can but guess.

Actually, he doesn’t have to guess why there is no quote from World Snooker. If he’d read the piece properly he would have known.

As I made clear, I contacted World Snooker and asked them to comment. They decided not to. That’s up to them, but it is untrue to say I had not put Mount’s points to them because I did. World Snooker’s press officer will verify this if Barton would like to check with him.

The irony of all this is that two days ago someone high up at World Snooker did contact me to question the SWSA’s reasoning, but he did not want to go on the record because he felt doing so may drag World Snooker’s other commercial partners into a public spat.

With a flourish, Barton concludes:

“We are extremely disappointed that once again someone prepared to invest in not only the top level of snooker but also supporting both youth development and charities alike finds himself a victim of the Snooker Regime which in years past your blog and publication would have objectively persued [sic] and informed the snooker world of the real story. I have to say on this occassion [sic] it is my opinion you have let them down.”

Well, that’s his opinion. Mine is that he should have read the original piece more carefully before choosing to mouth off.

To reiterate: the purpose of my story was not to criticise the SPA, or anyone else for that matter, but to try to find out the reasons for Mount’s decision.

I am not part of the ‘snooker regime.’ I am self-employed and have been for the last 15 years. This blog is a small part of what I do (and I don’t receive a penny for writing it).

Those who don’t like its contents are free not to read it.

As for the SPA, I don’t doubt that those behind it are well intentioned but they have gradually made themselves into a laughing stock: literally – people are openly laughing at them.

A few weeks ago they came up with a deal for players with a bookmaker offering a 10% refund for losing bets. In the biggest about-turn since Elton John got married, they then demanded an inquiry into the effects of gambling sponsorship on snooker players.

Is this really a body which will cogently articulate the real and pressing concerns of professional snooker players?

Do we suppose Barry Hearn is quaking in his boots at the prospect of receiving one of their communiqu├ęs?

The SPA seems to spend a great deal of time hitting out at those it perceives to be in opposition to it. In the main part these are only perceptions.

It should concentrate on persuading players that it is a credible body which can represent their interests in a professional manner.

It should also be sure of its ground in future before it starts making wild accusations.


FinnFan said...

"It (the SPA) should concentrate on persuading players that it is a credible body which can represent their interests in a professional manner."

Before they are able to persuade anyone on that, they need to start acting like they are a credible body and indeed capable to represent the players' interests in a professional manner.

At the moment, it's not looking very good.

Vex said...

What's all this noise lately about SPA...
No one in the world takes them serious!
And for that they can only blame themselves and their terrible PR and guerilla marketing on social networks!
And for the record i'm just a snooker fan that holds no side, i believe what i see and read, that's it!


FinnFan said...

Vex, agree with you the PR. Perhaps someone should issue them a fine and some media training, hmm?

Anonymous said...

The SPA really is the gift that keeps on giving. This rant was fairly typical of the ramblings on both their twitter feed and website. Far from being a voice for the players, the SPA is now straying dangerously close to Mr Hey You territory.

What is not clear is who they are (is it just Les Barton's personal enterprise now Robert Barton has stepped down) who they represent (of their 42 members how many are current tour players) and who is funding them (having already committed to £10k for Joe Jogia's appeal and the cost of a legal review of the Player's contract).

Anonymous said...

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the contents of SPA letter to DH (mainly wrongs, as it turned out) it seems a bizarre and inappropriate way of dealing with the issue. No need for an attention-seeking open letter, just call the bloke.

I have some constructive advice for the SPA if they want to a) be taken seriously or even b) survive as an organisation.

There has been a lot of wild lashing out of late, and this needs to stop. Stick to what you might be able to do for players (arguably improve conditions, and prize money). You could even try and improve the terms of the players contract. But none of this means anything if you are laughed out of the door and no one will sit at the same table.

To achieve this, you need to do the following. Introduce paid subs, without which membership is meaningless. Remove the smokescreen, and say how many members you have, broken down by top 16, top 32 etc. That way people know what clout, if any, you hold. Stop attacking respected members of the community and get your own house in order. Work out how to use Twitter and other social media, and learn how to write a press release.

That's for starters. Ignore this, and I predict you'll be out of the game within months.

Anonymous said...

My advice to the SPA would be to run a spell-checker on those press releases. My spelling isn't great either, but mistakes make you look unprofessional and they're so easy to avoid these days.

Claus said...

But...who authorized this Les character to speak on behalf of the players? Was he voted in charge? I would be humiliated if I had to be represented by what appears to be a 12-year old hothead with limited communication skills and a below average intelligence. I was excited about the SPA when it first got proposed but now a few idiots is ruining what was in theory a great concept.

timseal said...

The SPA are not very good at writing, so we shouldn't be surprised if they can't read either.

Kenn Fong said...

After reading the latest from the SPA, I'm wondering if Les is actually a mole working for Barry. There's no other explanation. He could not be doing a better job of undermining the interests of his own constituency.

TT said...

Re SPA: they are a joke, amazed anyone takes them seriously

Re: Jogia, I have a very inexpensive idea for him which will guarantee he is let off and also made out to be a victim. Via deedpole, change his name to "JOHN HIGGINS" ;-)

Anonymous said...

i know les, but not too well.

hes not one to talk mince, but on this oCCaSSion.....

Kenn Fong said...

Dave, a friend who did a lot of volunteer work told me something I've never forgotten and it applies here.

I was helping him publish a veteran's newsletter and the editor, our mutual friend, was a poet who included poetry into every issue.

Although the poetry was related to the veterans' experience, we could have saved copying costs by not including the poetry.

Whenever he gives blood, my wise friend told me, as soon as they bandage him up, they give him some fruit juice and some cookies.

The cookies and fruit juice are meant to help him rebuild his blood sugar. But my friend told me that's not the reason he gets it. If the sole reason for the cookies and fruit juice were to rebuild his blood sugar, they could have more efficiently achieved that intravenously using the same connection they used to remove the blood.

The cookies and juice (and friendly words from the volunteers) are their way of saying thank you and as a positive reward for the blood donation. You remember the cookies and juice and you're conditioned to expect it and you donate again because you know, after you're done, you get your cookies.

In the same way, organizations reward their leaders and membership by overlooking minor misbehavior and indulging quirks. It's hard to get volunteers or low-paid personnel.

I believe the reason no one takes Les Barton aside and has a quiet word with him -- which would be a kindness -- is these are his cookies. As incompetent as he is, they are afraid if someone talks to him and diplomatically asks him to use spell-check and grammar-check, that he'll throw a hissy fit and quit and no one else wants to take his place.

wild said...

Seriously there's to much concentrating on his Grammer/Spelling.

Bottom Line is who cares about that.

the content of statements and the way they go about their Business is the only thing that matters.

that needs addressing first and foremost.

Ray said...

Everyone in snooker should get one thing straight - if they do anything detrimental to the game then Snooker Scene will find out and not shy away from exposing them (as sure as night follows day)

Keep giving them plenty Dave and don't let the bastards get you down.

Anonymous said...

I can never tell Les and Robert apart. I can only assume they are actual twins.

Gerard said...

Dave, your blog is fucking good!

Reading it has become my addiction within my addiction to snooker.

Thank you for addressing smart and relevant points on snooker matters so often.

Anonymous said...

Great piece.

Gotta say, if I was a professional sportsperson, I would distance myself as far as I could from the SPA.

Anonymous said...

thanks for wasting 7 seconds of my life reading that comment, 1032.

Anonymous said...

What is the SPA doing meeting with Paul Mount anyway? It sounds pretty inappropriate to me. The WSA hired the facilities, so if the SPA isn't satisfied with them then they should be taking the issue up with the WSA as the contractor. I'd be bloody livid if I had a contract with a company and someone who was neither affiliated to them or representing them contacted me to discuss the terms of the contract.

Anonymous said...


Based on what you said its pretty sad you chose to waste more time responding then eh?

Anonymous said...

And when Les mentions "we" when referring to the SPA, who exactly are "we". I thought everyone other than Les had jumped ship!

Anonymous said...

559 obviously missed the irony

Anonymous said...

i think the spa thing is a waste of time.