The WPBSA has written to its membership (the players) to openly question the credibility of the Snooker Players Association and ascertain how many players feel this body should be representing them.

WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson has acted after concern as to the SPA’s role raised by its recent statements.

Ferguson wrote: “I am sure you are aware that in recent weeks there have been a number of statements made by the Snooker Players Association (SPA) regarding their view on the needs of members. Whilst it is useful to have this debate, it is harmful to the sport if it is conducted in public through sometimes inaccurate statements and comments. It is for this reason that the WPBSA board do not intend to engage publicly in this debate, but seek to obtain an accurate view from the membership.”

He continued: “In conducting our business openly the WPBSA board is looking to gain an understanding of whether you feel the need for individual support for players and if so, what form such representation should take. The SPA do offer this form of representation and we are looking to gain an understanding as to whether the SPA could fill this role, whether they have the support of the membership and to what extent.

“The board have asked the SPA for information to establish the extent to which they represent the membership. Unfortunately they have chosen not to provide this information, making it difficult for the board to form a view on their membership representation. The board will therefore take the matter into our own hands.”

This comes in the form of a questionnaire in which players are asked if they are a member of the SPA, if they think the SPA is credible enough to represent them and whether a separate independent body should be established.

The fact that the WPBSA has to undertake this process at all does not reflect well on the SPA. However, it may not be game over for them because, behind the scenes, they have been effective for certain players on certain issues.

Their overwhelming problem is one of public presentation.

The irony of all this is that the WPBSA is supposed to be the players’ union but when snooker grew from folk sport to major TV entertainment the lines of administration started to get blurred and have never really been satisfactorily untangled, even since Barry Hearn took charge of World Snooker Ltd.

For instance, the WPBSA still disciplines players. It surely can’t both represent and punish them.

Players are left wondering who exactly they should turn to if they have an issue which needs raising and, indeed, how seriously their complaints will be taken.


wild said...

its all about Players Wanting to be in charge.

Really the WPBSA Role should be about being the Snooker Union with People that Wants to Run the game transform to a Branch of World Snooker Ltd.ie Disciplinary Committee, Rules etc etc

and Let the WPBSA Represent it Members interests.

Of course in all Works there's More than one Union so if some would Rather SPA Look after them then Fine but Give players a Real Alternative to SPA in the Shape of WPBSA as it was set up to do.

Anonymous said...

"The board have asked the SPA for information to establish the extent to which they represent the membership. Unfortunately they have chosen not to provide this information" - so their reluctance to name the 42 players who are members extends all the way to the WPBSA.

The real problem is that, to put it bluntly, players who don't make the venues are invisible to the wider world. There is limited appetite for spectators or online viewing of qualifiers, and it can't be a major draw for sponsors of overseas events that a big slice of the prize money is given to players who never even travel to the venue. And there are plenty of players happy to take the place of anyone who drops off the tour.

But moaning about the injustice of this situation won't improve things for the players - the only way that prize money at the bottom end will improve is if the game gets bigger, and the SPA, notwithstanding its protestations about having big promoters interested in staging tournaments, is not helping.

Anonymous said...

I think the WSA are asking a legitimate question. To what extent do the SPA represent the players? When they are approached by a player's manager they know the capacity of their authority, but this isn't the case with SPA. It is the SPA's prerogative to keep their membership private, but then it's difficult for them to establish the extent of their influence.

I think there definitely is the need for the SPA, but they have acted inappropriately on some occasions. Fair enough, there is no harm in sticking it to a snooker journo on the internet but they shouldn't be interfering in private contracts between the WSA and venues, as they did with Paul Mount. If they are unhappy with the staging of the tournaments then they should be appealing to the WSA to correct the matter. The WSA is not the middle man in this case, it is the contractor.

On the other hand, I think they are doing the right thing funding Jogia's appeal (I assume it is the SPA anyway). The more I think about the Jogia case the more it troubles me how the verdict was arrived at, and the more I think the decision should be re-examined. The Jogia verdict relied exclusively on circumstantial evidence i.e. betting patterns, communication between Jogia and the perpetrators etc. Obviously, the most plausible explanation is that Jogia did indeed attempt to fix a result, and that seems to be the rationale behind the verdict. But there was no match so there were no dodgy shots to analyse, no evidence of finanical gain by Jogia, no witness testimony that Jogia agreed to throw the match, in short no proof of anything really. An irregular betting pattern is just that: irregular, which can be affected by any number of legitimate external influences; the match-fixing one just being the most plausible. But this verdict seem to represent a shift in the burden of proof: Jogia has been convicted out of not being able to provide a satisfactory explanation, rather than proven guilt. That approach may catch more cheats, but the problem is it demands that the player divulges personal information to provide a defence: a few years back Ebdon was forced into revealing his marriage problems, and Jogia has been forced into divulging medical history in an attempt to put up a defence against charges that are only backed up by circumstantial evidence. So I think any verdict that shifts the burden of proof on to a player should be re-examined in accordance with due process, and the SPA looks like it is being effective in getting the verdict re-examined by appeal. In that capacity there is definitely a need for an independent body to represent the players, since who else is there to represent Jogia now the WPBSA has hung him out to dry?

I think if a player makes a complaint through the SPA though they can't really hide behind the anonymity it offers. If the SPA is representing players in a complaint to the WSA then they really have to say who exactly they are representing in that particular instance. Just saying you represent "40 players" doesn't really cut it.

Anonymous said...

Will Prince Harry be represented by the SPA at his forthcoming meeting with the queen?

Anonymous said...

get rid of the players pals poker players pretending to be for the players. imo theyre in it for themselves (not financially)

Gene Bernice said...

Questionnaire helps the snookers players association to satisfy the players needs, which results in success and popularity.


Anonymous said...

Bring in Quinten Hann to oversee fair play and integrity

kildare cueman said...

Petty spats will always be a feature of snooker, especially as the game grows. Snooker is in a position of constant change, and when change occurs some players will benefit and others will be disadvantaged.

In the great scheme of things, players who wont travel or can't play unless they bring their own pies should pack it in. There will be an army of willing amateurs ready to replace them.

This SPA/SWSA thing hardly merits discussion. We are a couple of years away from a global circuit with big money and an international group of players chasing titles.

By that stage there should be a fairly lucrative amateur/pro-am tour in several countries where players can supplement their incomes.

Anonymous said...

The game is at least a decade off "big money", which is part of the problem really. If it were just around the corner the players would tolerate the transition.

Anonymous said...

One of the problems in snooker is that the players look at other professional sports such as golf, tennis etc.and see the money that the players earn and expect the same from snooker but what they have to realise is that they need to promote their own sport like the players in other professional sports do. All the snooker players seem to do is moan and groan publicly about any thing that doesn't suit them. This does the sport no good whatsoever, bad publicity turns sponsors away, makes television think twice about coverage and without these two vital components any sport will struggle. To be a good professional needs more than ability with the cue, it needs an amount of commensense and responsibility as well which appears to be lacking in quite a few of the leading players. They should also remember that their managers work for them and keep a tight reign on what they say and who they say it to.