Apart from musical walk-ons and obtaining an 11th-hour sponsor it is too soon for Barry Hearn's influence as the new chairman of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association to be widely felt but much has been happening backstage, notably a meeting with independent promoters. This has produced a new avowal of common cause and a shortly to be announced calendar that will include a ranking event in Germany, one of the game's greatest growth areas, which has been nurtured for several years by Shaun Murphy's manager, Brandon Parker.
"Independent promoters on their own don't have the money to do it," said Hearn, promising financial support. "Television ratings on Eurosport are spectacular. Other European broadcasters are interested. We're ready to play a part.
"I don't mind spending money and perhaps taking a loss to start with if I can see a profit at the end of it. By the same token we won't be supporting a ranking event in Malta anymore because there's no potential for growth there."
Even the Welsh Open will have to do better: "We lose £200,000 a year on it." It has not had a sponsor since the government banned tobacco sponsorship seven years ago although, even a mere 10 days before the event, Hearn hopes to find one. World Series, founded by John Higgins, the world champion, and his manager, Pat Mooney, will be supported by WPBSA. "I see it as our battering ram into new territories that aren't ready for a full ranking event," said Hearn.
Small field tournaments featuring leading players and local heroes have already been staged in Berlin, Warsaw, Moscow, Prague and the Algarve and Jeddah is to host one in March.
Mooney and Parker felt that the previous regime's lack of encouragement for their projects amounted at times to obstruction. Both played leading roles in the coup at December's annual general meeting that led to Hearn's livelier and far more inclusive approach.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2010/ja ... rs-snooker
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