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Snooker has enjoyed excellent exposure over the years with hours of live coverage on the BBC, ITV and SKY Sports and yet only an estimated 32 players earn enough money from the sport to be considered professionals.

There are many tournaments such as the Austrian, German, and Thailand Open’s, which carry great weight in their own countries but do not have the backing of the major world players.

The solution is out there: Take the example of Tennis - the ATP is highly successful with all tennis tournaments worldwide included in the structure.

Every professional player has to be registered and apply for tournaments in advance. Players get selected for each event based on their ranking position (in the first instance) and then by qualification or organisers Wild Cards.

The good thing about this system is that all events count towards the world rankings. The more prize money available the higher the value of ranking points available.

This system would work in snooker but seems to have been overlooked.

If players could pick up vital world ranking points (in addition to prize money) from these events then it would develop the game and encourage the coverage and recognition it deserves. You would also see a number of the lower ranked players attending in order to move up.

The tournaments already exist; they already have sponsors and media coverage. All that is lacking is the top professional players and World Ranking status.

Everyone who watches the game or participates at an amateur level wants to know who the World Number 1 is; this gives them someone to aspire to.

There is a hotbed of talent in the UK but the middle and Far East, Central Europe, Australia and now to some extent the USA, are all playing snooker. Why not make the World Tour more global? Ranking events in the UAE, Thailand, Germany, Holland, Australia and the USA would improve the profile of the game. In turn there would be more TV coverage and to a larger global audience. This would increase revenues for the sport in general but would also give more professional players the opportunity to earn a living solely from playing the game.

The prize money is stable (although much less than current World Ranking events) and players do turn up. Give these events ranking status and more sponsors would come on board, Professionals would still play and the fields would get even stronger as the tournaments develop.

Why limit the opportunities for professional players and aspiring professionals to earn money from the sport they are good at and love?

Snooker is ideally formatted for media attention as its static; Advertising hoardings are seen by viewers 100’s of times throughout the course of a tournament as are the players sponsorship logos., Saga Insurance and previously the big tobacco companies appreciate the value of snooker sponsorship. They wouldn’t do it if it didn’t provide a great return on investment.

In summary it is safe to say that there are not enough ranking tournaments available in the current model.

Perhaps it is also time to open up the tour to more than 96 players, allowing players from minor snooker playing countries to gain tournament experience and ranking points without the hefty cost of worldwide travel.

With 7.5 million cue sports players in the UK fast dwindling away it is time to look at the bigger picture and introduce a worldwide structure that provides opportunities for all before the sport vanishes forever.

Article written by Peter Williams, Billiards Boutique, Weymouth, Dorset.

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Issued by Spiral MPR (working on behalf of Billiards Boutique, 01202 676762

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