here is, according to TSF, the full content of the BH MastersPlan. I haven't read it yet, I must admit. Nevertheless
In December 2009 I was invited to become Chairman of the WPBSA. It did not take long to discover the dire situation that snooker was in, nor the reasons for its predicament.
A history of poor leadership, lack of events, absence of investment, cost and organisational deficiencies and poor brand awareness are the first things that came to mind in my first few weeks in charge.
It is hardly worthwhile to blame past administrations because the die had been cast over a decade ago, and no one has taken this sport by the scruff of the neck and forced it into the 21st Century. This has to be done now or the game will become a distant memory – drastic action needs to be taken and I believe if it is then good times can return, but there will be some pain along the way.
The WPBSA is an organisation that “owns” the game and this in turn is “owned” by the Players. Rules, drug testing and discipline are the duties of the WPBSA and it must deliver in an efficient and cost effective manner.
Commercial rights are organised and effectively controlled by World Snooker and it is here that the problems begin. Players controlling Commercial Rights just does not work – you need strong management, professionally administered and frankly you have not heard that for years and years and even more frankly it is all your fault. For years voting players have either been too lazy or complacent to vote on important matters like Board appointments or, worse still, have allowed others to vote on their behalf. So before any of you whinge about the state of snooker just remember you have had the power to change this and up until my appointment you have done nothing about it – and even then lots of you voted against me!
So now I am in a privileged position of being able to create a new vision for snooker and opportunities for all players of ability. Ability is the only criteria for success, but you must have the chance to test your ability, so we need more events to give you this opportunity. I have no sympathy for any player who does not take this opportunity, as it means you are not good enough in which case – get another job!
The predicament we have basically is that WPBSA/WSL is losing money (budget loss £1.2m – coming down daily) and yet we need more events to keep the game alive.
The BBC contract is fundamental to our success and yet they want to cut from four events to three – I am trying to dissuade them by re-inventing the Grand Prix into the World Open and renewal negotiations are continuing so keep your fingers crossed.
Elsewhere other broadcasters are showing interest, as we have managed to create a little “buzz” around snooker at the moment, with new ideas and enthusiasm, but there is a long way to go to change the current perception of snooker’s demise.
Operating wise the WPBSA/WSL is full of good people, who work fairly hard, but it lacks dynamic leadership, decision making and operating efficiency. This will be corrected. All in all there is a lot to do, but I do not believe you as players should be bothered with any of these problems. You are snooker players and your role should be to concentrate on playing well and winning matches. Your interest in the running of snooker should be limited to the amount of events and prize money you are playing for – let the professionals do their jobs and you do yours. This is the position in football, golf, Formula One, etc.
For this reason alone I am suggesting that the commercial activities of WPBSA should be acquired by a separate trading company, which is committed to delivering events and prize money, leaving the WPBSA as the custodians of the sport itself. Over the next few pages I will explain the way this can work and hopefully we can agree quickly to begin the process of how and when this will happen.
To my mind this is the only way snooker will go forward but it is up to you.
The current situation and changes you can expect
“We need more events, but we are losing money already”
Professional snooker players just do not have enough opportunities to make money and although the prize money in the existing events looks fairly good, there just are not enough events.
We have got to invest in new markets, new formats and new media to create the finance to produce a proper diary of events, which make professional snooker players want to get up in the morning. We will have to invest, to gamble if you like, because the only alternative is to use up the cash reserves we currently have by trading losses and this I am not prepared to do.
So I have attached a diary of events from the end of this year’s World Championship to the end of next year (Appendix A). Of course some of this may change dependent on broadcast partners but my minimum prize money projection for next year is £4.5m, as against £3.5m for this year.
The major changes in our calendar and our events are as follows:-
1. Grand Prix becomes World Open 2010.
2011 is the last year of the BBC contract and they do not like the Grand Prix. I do not blame them, I think it is dull and tired and as I do not want to lose an event on the BBC we are converting the Grand Prix into the World Open for 2010, a new look event but still carrying ranking points.
The BBC will then have first option on acquiring the World Open going forward and if they do not want it, we will have established a new, vibrant event to offer other broadcasters.
World Open: September, Scotland
The FA Cup of Snooker
Round 1 Seeds 65-96 v 32 invited amateurs (random draw)
Round 2 Seeds 33-64 v Round 1 winners (random draw)
Round 3 Seeds 1-32 v Round 2 winners (random draw)
Four selected matches from Round 3 and Round 4 onwards will be televised on a single table format.
All matches will be best of five frames up to the semi-finals
Rounds 1, 2 and 3 will be played at the Academy in Sheffield
FA Cup random draw throughout
No limitation on age or sex of players.
Round 1 losers (x 32) -
Round 2 losers (x 32) x 1500 48,000
Round 3 losers (x 32) x 2500 80,000
Round 4 losers (x 16) x 5000 80,000
Round 5 losers (x 8) x 7500 60,000
Quarter final losers (x 4) x 12,000 48,000
Semi final losers (x 2) x 20,000 40,000
Runner Up (x 1) x 40,000 40,000
Winner (x 1) x 100,000 100,000
Highest break prize on TV 4,000
No 147 break prize.
2. World Snooker Shoot Out
To be played January 2011 and televised live Friday to Sunday.
Top 64 in the rankings – one frame shoot out, 25 second shot clock, no time outs – 12 minute maximum frame.
Hopefully a very entertaining and different event aimed at a younger market and played in a “lively” atmosphere!
Prize Money doubles with each win.
1st Round losers 32 x £ 500 16,000
2nd Round losers 16 x £1000 16,000
3rd Round losers 8 x £2000 16,000
Quarter final losers 4 x £4000 16,000
Semi final losers 2 x £8000 16,000
Runner Up 1 x £16,000 16,000
Winner 1 x £32,000 32,000
Highest break 2,000
No 147 break prize.
3. European Snooker Championship : 3 – 6 February 2011, Berlin
Full ranking event, £250,000 prize money
4. The Players Tour Championship
Of all the proposed changes for the sport of snooker the Players Tour will possibly have the greatest effect on the revitalisation of our sport.
Based on the success of an annual Pro Tour in golf and darts its aims are:-
(i) To offer professional players substantially more events to play in and therefore more opportunities to win prize money based only on ability.
i. To act as a useful tool in spreading the game into new potential markets.
ii. To create an annual televised Pro Tour Championship.
The fundamental characteristics of the Players Tour Championship (PTC):-
1. 12 events to run from May to December (four in the UK and eight in Europe) followed by a Tour Championship February/March in the following year.
2. Open to 96 Pro Tour players.
3. Entry fee of £100 each event
4. Prize money of each event set at £50,000 per event in the UK, €50,000 in Europe.
5. Separate one year ranking list for PTC events, based on prize money won – initial event only seeded on Official Ranking List thereafter top 64 based on only PTC events results.
6. Tour Championship participation for top 24 on the PTC rankings – Round one players ranked 9-24 with winners playing top 8 seeds in round two.
7. Official Ranking List points to be awarded to the last 32 in each Pro Tour event.
8. Official Ranking List points to be awarded to the 24 participants in the Tour Championship.
9. Events to be played in the UK over a weekend, in Europe possible over three days – full details to be confirmed.
10. Prize money will be paid from the last 32 onwards.
11. Of the eight European events four will be organised by World Series of Snooker and four by Brandon Parker and his Dragonstars partners.
12. Anticipated that the UK events will be played at The Academy.
13. PTC rankings will be calculated on prize money won.
1. PTC Prize Funds
Winner 10,000 10,000
Runner Up 5,000 6,000
2 x Losing Semi Finalists x £2,500 5,000 6,000 x £3000
4 x Losing Quarter Finalists x £1,500 6,000 6,000
8 x Last 16 x £1000 8,000 8,000
16 x Last 32 x £750 12,000 12,000
Plate PM (Europe) 4,000 2,000
High Break Prize (UK)
€. 50,000 £ 50,000
Note: Plate prize money and high break prize will not qualify for inclusion in the Pro Tour Order of Merit.
1. Televised Tour Championship
Winner 60,000 60,000
Runner Up 25,000 25,000
Losing Semi Finalist (x2) 15,000 30,000
Losing Quarter finalists (x4) 7,500 30,000
Losing last 16 (x8) 4,000 32,000
1st Round losers (x8) 2,500 20,000
High Break 3,000
p. Tour cards for 2011/2012 will be awarded to the top eight PTC players not in the top 64 at the end of the season.
As you know the Pro Challenge events have been scrapped – not surprising when you know that only 33 players entered the last event in Liverpool!
The PTC suggested will hopefully be more successful with Tour Championship qualification and official ranking points available. The PTC will not be successful if players do not support the events, so it is up to you to decide if you really want to be a full time professional or not!
Ability is the only criteria, opportunities exist but the Players have to believe in themselves to commit properly to create this exciting new Tour.
The PTC will also involve leading amateur Players to give each tournament a local flavour and to develop the sport in new territories, which hopefully will expand these tournaments into bigger and possibly full ranking events.
This is the backbone of the future of the game and the start of the revitalisation of snooker.
I want every pro player to play in every event, so to encourage further participation players will have to play in a minimum of six events – four European and two UK events – to qualify for the Pro Tour Order of Merit.
“We are a professional sport but ability must be the only criteria for success”.
I propose that the current PIOS tour be cancelled for 2010/11 and replaced by a Q School system to operate over four events, staged at the Academy, and played over a 14 day period following the 2011 World Professional Championship. Entry to Q School would be £1,000 and a minimum of 12 players would be awarded their tour card. Players ranked 65-96 would lose their Tour Status each year and they would be replaced by:-
2011/12 Season Proposed Qualifying Criteria
Northern Ireland 1
Irish Republic 1
IBSF World Champ 1
IBSF U21 Champ 1
From 2010/11 PTC Events
for players not in top 64 at end of season 8
Q School Pro Cards – minimum 12
By staging a Q School in May 2011 all potential professionals will know where they stand quickly, instead of having to find the time and money to attend events throughout the year. Overseas players would benefit from having one major trip to see if they are good enough to gain a Tour Card, instead of being disadvantaged as they are under the current system.
There will be no prize money at Q School – the prize they are playing for is the ultimate in snooker – a Tour Card on the professional circuit. If the qualifiers are good enough they should have the opportunities to make a good living if they are not, then they should look for a career elsewhere.
We must not sponsor mediocrity – we should reward excellence.
This is a costly venture and while it performs an admirable service to the Sheffield community and various overseas and domestic players, it comes at an unacceptable cost with little benefit to the majority of the Main Tour Players. The Academy will be utilised for community services at available times, but priority will be given to:-
(i) Qualification events for major tournaments.
(ii) Q School tournaments in May of each year.
(iii) Player Championship events.
(iv) 1st, 2nd and 3rd round matches of the world Open.
(v) Other events in the future particularly when live streaming presents an opportunity.
The Academy must be run as a business not a cost – we simply cannot afford it in its present form – and I expect the Academy to play a major role in our activities and to make a contribution to the profitability of our business.
“The way forward – The new structure”
Snooker has been poorly run from a commercial perspective for years by an administration largely devoid of modern professional standards. Year after year the Board has been made up of various vested interests that have not delivered efficient exploitation of snooker’s properties. This has to change.
Players should concentrate on playing not on constant power struggles at Board room level – we need consistency and we need to start moving forward quickly.
Having looked at the various options to rectify this problem, my recommendation is to set up an entirely new company to acquire World Snooker Limited that would own snooker’s commercial rights and one that would be judged purely on the level of prize money and events provided for the players.
As I have mentioned earlier, it is not going to be easy. We are losing money at the moment and yet we need more events to keep snooker as a viable sport to give the players an opportunity to earn a decent living from the game.
Someone has to take that responsibility and that person has to have control, otherwise we are back to the inefficient ways that snooker has been operating under for the past 20 years.
If I have control I am confident I can do the job, but it obviously needs the voting members of the WPBSA to support this initiative.
The recommended proposal is simple:-
1. A new company would be set up to acquire World Snooker Limited for £1.
2. This company would have issued share capital of £500,000 (necessary to cover future losses while we build).
3. The shares in the new company would be allocated 51% to Matchroom Sport, a company controlled by me, 24% to other commercial partners and 25% to the Players who are voting members of the WPBSA at the time of acceptance of this proposal.
4. The Players 25% would be allocated on the basis of one point for each voting member, an additional point for players for each ranking event win or a Masters victory and a further additional point for any World Championship win i.e. two points.
I have attached a list of points that would be offered to each of the Players on that basis and the cost of their allocation (Appendix B).
Players would not have to take up their allocation, it is their option. If they did not then any available shares would be offered to Players who had chosen to take up the offer.
The new company would then be totally responsible for running all commercial aspects of the game and we, as shareholders, would be a united force without any other influence and charged with taking the sport forward subject of course to:-
1. Hitting guaranteed prize fund levels over a period of time and
2. Paying the WPBSA, the owners of the sport and still owned by the players, an annual licence fee necessary to run the Association efficiently and effectively.
The current bank balance of around £3 Million would be totally committed to increasing players’ event opportunities which would be used over the next three years to boost prize funds from £3.5m (2009/10) to a minimum of £4.5m. Thereafter prize money levels must increase annually as set out under Appendix C. Should either the prize money not increase as set out, or the license fee payable to the WPBSA not be paid over all commercial rights would revert back to the WPBSA.
Players would receive dividends if a profit was made and would have the ability to sell their shares should they need to at market value during their ownership.
The advantages of the recommended proposal are:–
• The game itself, controlled by the WPBSA, remains under the total ownership of the Players.
• Prize money levels are guaranteed to increase or the governing body re-acquires the commercial rights.
• The commercial exploitation of the game will be run by professionals.
• The Players participate in the success of the new commercial exploitation plans.
• The license fee payable by the new commercial enterprise cover the running costs of the WPBSA.
Subject to the proposal being accepted at the Players meeting the final details of any offer for shares would be made by the new company in due course. Any decision to take up shares in the new company must only be made on the basis of the information relating to and provided by the new company when if an offer is made in the future.
The World Professional Billiard and Snooker Association (WPBSA)
Under the proposed new arrangements the WPBSA would continue to operate as the official governing body of Snooker owned and controlled by the Players.
Rules and regulations, drug testing and disciplinary matters would continue under their control administered by a Board of Directors who you, the Players, elect.
I do not believe should the proposal be accepted by the members and then be implemented, that my position as Chairman of the WPBSA is tenable and will therefore lead the search for my replacement as quickly as possible.
As part of the transfer of the commercial operations a licence fee would be payable annually to the WPBSA to finance its operations.
This means the Players retain ownership of the game with the commercial operation run as an independent business providing prize fund targets are achieved and the annual licence fee paid.
The Snooker Players Association (SPA)
As we move forward to a more efficient future it makes sense that the Players have independent representation on the Board of the new World Snooker Ltd.
It is my view that in the past the vested interests of other promoters and managers have not necessarily represented the interest of the membership as a whole. This needs to change. By all players being members of, effectively, a Players Union their views need to be represented at Board level via an entity that is controlled by the Players and can act as a conduit to the new commercial arm of the game to ensure their opinions are heard.
With the Players voting into office the officer of the SPA, one collective voice carries a lot more sway than independent managers whose job is clearly to best represent just their own players.
The SPA needs to represent all Players and this would form part of a new Players Contract to be introduced if the new commercial operation proposals receive your support. I would commend this course of action.
A detailed discussion document has been circulated by the SPA – please consider this and make any observations back to the SPA – you do need this voice.
The SPA will be financed in a variety of ways, but predominately by the deduction of 3% of prize funds on sanctioned events which will be paid over to the SPA. The primary responsibility of the SPA will be to independently represent players' views on all aspects of the sport but will also:-
1. Observe and control the existing benevolent fund.
2. Take over and pay for the existing medical insurance scheme.
3. Act as advisors on commercial matters to the players.
Of course this is early days for the SPA, but with your support they can add significantly to the smooth running of World Snooker, as we take on the challenges that lie before us.
The Ranking System
After three months I am still trying to understand the reasoning and logic within the current points system.
I am not a fan, but I need to take longer to consider the current system and the alternatives.
The two basic criteria that I believe are essential for any ranking system are:-
1. The acknowledgement due to players who have achieved results on the table, whereby they have played a major part in the advancement of the game.
2. The unrestricted opportunity to new and old players to advance their ranking rapidly dependant only on results.
I have always been a big fan of prize money ranking lists and we will use this system in the new PTC Rankings. Of course the PTC events will also carry points under the old System of Merit.
Providing there are enough events and everyone gets enough opportunities then any ranking system should be accurate in arriving at the Order of Merit.
This is exactly the sort of situation where I need a fully functional Players Union to give me the Players viewpoint on the fairest system in their minds. Hopefully that can be put into place quickly.
What I do not understand is why events throughout a year are seeded on the basis of rankings at the beginning of a season and not on rankings adjusted for results during a year?
This needs to be changed immediately to prevent the same match-ups in every event. I would have thought that commonsense decrees that current form should be illustrated via an up-to-date ranking list.
“We have got to live in the real world”
Looking as I have at the costs incurred by World Snooker in maintaining their business annually, I am generally shocked by the level of expenditure on many fronts.
Changes need to be made in our operating procedures and overheads need to be more efficiently managed.
Some of the costs we incur beg the question – “Who do we think we are?”
Snooker is not a big business like the FA or the PGA, yet we act like we are even though we cannot afford to.
Costs like healthcare, 147 insurance, hospitality cars, Cue Zone expenses etc. are a luxury we cannot afford and must go. This money can help us reduce losses and increase prize funds.
Similarly, directors' fees and personal costs need to be reviewed and reduced to an acceptable level. We must focus on our most important objectives – to increase prize money and opportunities whilst running an efficient and vibrant organisation.
I hope you share my views on this exciting new partnership. It means you get the game run properly, prize funds levels are guaranteed and targets have to be hit to preserve the license from the WPBSA, the custodians of the sport which you, the players, own completely.
It means we are all on the same side and united in moving the game forward.
It also means that I will have control over the commercial direction the game is taking and with over 30 years experience in this field I hope you are confident in my ability to deliver.
ALL DATES AND VENUES ARE PROVISIONAL AND SUBJECT TO CHANGE
DATE TOURNAMENT VENUE
28-30 Seniors World Championship qualifiers Cue Club, Bradford
2-6 Wuxi Classic China
18-20 Player Tour Championship 1 (PTC1) Academy
9-11 Player Tour Championship 2 (PTC2) Academy
18-25 6 Red Championship Thailand
30 – 1 Aug World Player Tour Championship (WPTC1) tbc
3-6 Shanghai Masters Qualifiers Academy
13-15 World Player Tour Championship (WPTC2) tbc
21-24 World Open Qualifiers Academy
26-29 Euro Players Tour Championship (EPTC 1) Germany
2 Premier League
6-12 Shanghai Masters Shanghai
16 Premier League
18-26 World Open (formerly Grand Prix) SECC, Glasgow
30 Premier League
1-3 Euro Players Tour Championship (EPTC 2) Europe
7 Premier League
8-10 Players Tour Championship 3 (PTC3) Academy
14 Premier League
15-17 World Player Tour Championship 3 (WPTC3) tbc
21 Premier League
22-24 Euro Players Tour Championship (EPTC 3) Europe
28 Premier League
4 Premier League
5-7 Seniors World Championship Cedar Court Hotel, Bradford
5-7 Player Tour Championship 4 (PTC4) Academy
11 Premier League
12-14 Euro Players Tour Championship 4 (EPTC 4) Germany
13-20 Asian Games Guangzhou
18 Premier League
19-21 World Player Tour Championship 4 (WPTC 4) tbc
23-30 UK Championship qualifiers Academy
27-28 Premier League Finals Potters
4-12 UK Championship Telford Int Centre
3-6 Championship League
9-16 The Masters Wembley Arena
18-21 European Masters qualifiers Academy
24-27 Championship League
28-30 Sky Shoot Out tbc
3-6 European Masters Berlin, Germany
8-11 Welsh Open quals Academy
14-20 Welsh Open Wales
22-25 China Open qualifiers Academy
28 – 3 Mar Championship League
4-15 Betfred.com World Championship qualifiers Academy
17-20 Players Tour Championship Finals tbc
21-24 Championship League
28 March – 3 April China Open Beijing
16 April – 2 May Betfred.com World Snooker Championship Crucible Theatre, Sheffield
(Appendix B) - DOWNLOAD LINK .XLS file
Prize Money guarantees going forward
The prize money for 2009/10 amount to approximately £3.5m and as I have mentioned previously the £3m in cash reserves will be committed to increasing prize funds to a minimum of £4.5m for the next three years.
During that three year period our task is to revitalize snooker, create more events worldwide and to create new partnerships with broadcasters.
Along the way there will be problems – our first is the Grand Prix – now the World Open – which the BBC do not want and which gives us £500,000 of prize money to find to maintain our commitment to a minimum prize fund of £4.5m annually. I am confident we can achieve this short term goal and to build the foundation for a successful exploitation of snooker. If we fail the Players know that the commercial rights acquired will revert back to their ownership.
After the first three years the new commercial company will guarantee prize money increasing by a minimum of 5% per annum i.e. 2013/14 £4,725m, 2014/15 £4,950m and 2015/16 £5,175m, with further levels being agreed each six years thereafter.
You must know by now I am committed to making a success of this new challenge, but we all need to pull together to make these plans a reality.
Summary of calendar of sanctioned events and prize money 2010/11
World Open 500,000
Shanghai Masters 325,000
UK Championship 600,000
The Masters 500,000
Welsh Open 200,000
Players Tour (4 x £50K, 8 x €50,000) 540,000
Player Championship 200,000
World Shoot Out 130,000
China Open 325,000
World Championship 1,111,000
European Open 250,000
World Senior Championship 50,000
The World Championship will be the only event to carry a 147 prize.