Saturday, August 19, 2006

Developing Professional Snooker

Snooker has declined over the last decade from it's glory days in the mid-eighties. There are a number of factors that have brought this about and there are also a number of key things that need to be addressed in order for the professional game to develop.

World Snooker, until the management of Sir Rodney Walker, was in turmoil and losing money all over the place. Walker has come in and steadied the ship, for the first time in a few years World Snooker made a profit last year. If the game in general is in a healthy position financially then this only serves to help all other aspects, increased prize money, better sponsor bargaining power to name just two.

The loss of Imperial Tobacco was a huge loss for the sport and knowing this was going to happen in advance I am surprised that World Snooker did not plan for this in advance and try to cover the gap in funding. 888.com coming on board for the World Championships and Saga Insurance for the Masters are a real step in the right direction. But prize money has dwindled greatly over the past few years (athough is up this year). The game needs more sponsors, but then that could be said for most professional sports (except the likes of Golf, Football and Tennis).

In my opinion it would be easier to find sponsors if the game was given a more global feel. The only events outside of the UK are The Malta Cup and China Trophy. With the massive expanse of the game out in China and the far east it may be an idea for more tournaments in that continent. Also Germany hold a large invitational event each year why not turn that intoa ranking event. If these invitational tournaments were given more status (much like the I Trophy this year) then sponsorship and TV revenues increase.

I am not trying to imply that it is easy to fid sponsors as it is not, but by creating a more geographic spread for tournaments new sponsors may be attracted due to the more global feel. Snooker has the best TV coverage of any cue sport worldwide both in it's physical production and in the professionalism of the whole team.

My Plan For Snooker!
  • 10 Month ranking season
  • 1 main tour event per month
  • 10 Main Ranking events in total (9 + World Championships)
  • Smaller events that players can pick and choose to play in or not with ranking points 75% less than Main Tour events. These would be ideal for new tour players or players looking to improve ranking over a season.
  • Abolition of current seeding structure.
  • New structure of Top 16 plus 16 qualifiers (qualifying tournaments not seeded giving new/younger players a greater chance to progress.)
  • By having a two tier ranking tournament system it means more money and a greater number of players are able to make a living.
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