This is a Copy of a Letter i scanned From the July Issue of Snooker Scene by ex pro Nic Barrow who was at the meeting in Sheffield on June the 2nd.
Having attended the players meeting of May 5 and asked Barry Hearn numerous questions on his proposal, I was looking forward to doing the same with John Davison at the EGM of June 2.
I felt an extreme sense of disappointment when I discovered John would not be there to present his case, field questions and go toe to toe with Barry. That surely would have been the proper thing to do?
Jim McMahon's enthusiastic lobbying before and during the meeting didn't add up to me. It comprised the following reasoning:
1. John Davison is a gentleman and doesn't want to get involved in a public tit for tat. I felt the 'gentlemanly' thing to do
was attend and show us his mettle in such a 'tit for tat' so that we could uncover the strength of John and his proposal.
2. He is a private individual who wants to remain low profile. (Why did he want to run snooker if he was so 'private'?).
3. He is allowing the vote to go ahead in the same way that Barry stayed out of the meeting to let the Rodney Walker vote
go through. (This was not the same situation. He should have 'been there' to clarify his proposal).
Jim McMahon, Mike Dunn and Lee Doyle all seemed very keen during the meeting to 'push on and get to the vote', which Jason Ferguson from the chair quite rightly resisted.
It was at those points that I stood up to shoehorn in my perspectives on the situation.
As a member of the association since 1991 (when the game went 'open'), I felt it my duty to put forth what I saw that the game needs, and to put right some of misperceptions that had abounded in the previous weeks.
My points were simply:
1. I wanted everyone in the room to realise that Barry was 'not a greedy bastard buying the game for a pound'. It would be a travesty if people voted alongside that hysteria with this emotionally based, ill thought out objection. I added that he was offering £255,000 for 51 % of the rights (NOT the £3.5m in reserves!) but that the amount offered was much LESS than the other three corners of his quadrilateral, namely his:
a. 35 years experience promoting sport with proven busines results.
b. list of contacts in the sports broadcasting world.
c. list of contacts in the sports sponsorship world.
I also pointed out that Mark King had offered £2 'for the game' earlier in the meeting. So if it was true that Barry was offering 50% less, why not simply go with Mark's offer?
2. That the 'rights to the game will not disappear forever' if this vote goes ahead. They would remain there to be exploited
by a professional for once. If anyone struck oil in their back garden, he would surely get someone else in to drill so he could maximise its potential. The players would be doing the same with Barry - handing him the reins.
3. Progressive items like the ranking list, moving almost to a weekly basis would be much more desirable for punters,
broadcasters and sponsors - and finally put us in line with the likes of golf and tennis.
If all the people voting for the assignment of World Snooker's commercial rights were on a plane, would they prefer a professionally qualified pilot, or sitting in the aisle watching a bunch of passengers squabble in the cockpit as to how they are going to fly 'because control of the plane should stay in our hands'.
The game has also had no continuity of strong leadership for over 30 years. That leadership has also been by definition run by amateur business people - professional snooker players - or those who they decide (to the best of their amateur business ability) to appoint and sack.
It's like a referee telling a player: "You can play your total clearance but you need to use a different cue on every shot, and play every shot with your unpreferred hand."
That is what players have been trying to do in running the game. This is why it has stood still, prize money wise, from an equal footing in 1980 with the European Golf Tour - who now have an annual prize fund of £82m. Despite Bernie Ecclestone being able to live in a £100m home in Kensington Palace Gardens, I don't hear Lewis Hamilton complaining about his own rewards. That is a perfect example of a sport's business affairs being properly run by a businessman who has fought tooth and nail to build up the value of the rights of which he been the custodian for four decades.
After the EGM, when I discovered that Barry would have lost the vote had it gone ahead at the beginning of the meeting, the tactics of Davison's supporters was clear and my blood was left cold through realising the magnitude of every minute of that meeting.
Interestingly, I have been criticised in a few of the forums since for what I stood up and said. But whatever I said was in the interests of snooker - which comes above my relationship with anyone in the game, and which are more important than anyone in the game.
It seems that finally we have the commercial rights to the game in the hands of a professional who will now be left alone to run it properly.
I say good luck to Barry, and to everyone else who has a part to play in snooker from now on.
Nic Barrow,Milton Keynes
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