London 26 November 2009: World Snooker Limited today announced plans for a joint venture with IMG, the world's premier and most diversified sports, entertainment and media company, which will create an unprecedented new World Snooker Tour.
The intention is to capitalise on the burgeoning interest in professional snooker in many countries around the world, and develop snooker’s professional circuit in a way similar to that of global sports such as tennis and golf.
The new concept envisages a minimum of 15 professional ranking tournaments, plus invitation events, being played throughout the first year, with the number of events to be increased in subsequent years. It is anticipated that the first World Snooker Tour events will be phased in next season (2010/2011).
World Snooker and IMG, who currently produce the BBC’s snooker coverage and manage World Snooker’s International Broadcast rights, will work closely with independent promoters worldwide in the planning of the World Snooker Tour and replicate the success of established tournaments in the UK and China.
World Snooker Chairman Sir Rodney Walker, who first met with IMG several months ago to discuss a roadmap for the future of snooker, said: “We have brought forward today’s announcement of the proposed World Snooker Tour in response to misleading, inaccurate and downright untruthful comments about the sport which have been made in the past few months. In the last five years, the sport has progressed from an uncertain financial position with a history of turmoil, to a sport with financial stability, renewed long-term worldwide broadcast contracts and new sponsorship agreements.
“Together with IMG we believe the time is now right to build on these underlying strengths to put in place a World Snooker Tour. We hope the players and promoters will recognise the opportunities of being part of this ambitious plan and help in bringing it to fruition.”
Graham Fry, Managing Director, IMG Sports Media Production, added: “I have long believed in the potential of snooker and IMG has developed a formula which should lead to major growth in the sport. This new approach will significantly increase the number of sanctioned ranking tournaments which in turn will improve both the earnings for players and promoters. This will also help in the development of new talent."
Adam Kelly, Marketing Director, IMG Sport Media, who is leading the project from a commercial perspective added "The strategy is founded on two major elements, profitable rights distribution and premier quality production. I believe we have something here that can unite the snooker community. With the support of the players and the World Snooker Board this approach can lead to a brighter and stronger future for the sport.”
15 ranking events plus a number of non-ranking events from next season onwards. This is the best news snooker has had in a long long time. Come on.
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