Changes to Tour Structure Planned

The busy weekend down in Killarney for the Alex Higgins International Trophy meant that I didn’t have time to report the announcement by World Snooker for planned changes to the structure of the Main Tour. 

For the 2013/14 campaign, the circuit will be opened up to 128 professionals – an increase of 29 from this season and up from the previous norm of 96 players. 

The announcement immediately dispelled any fears shared among critics of Barry Hearn that the promotions guru would, indeed, reduce the numbers on the tour. 

The change should be welcomed because it ensures that the sport has aspirations to grow even further in the immediate future. 

By setting it for two seasons from now as opposed to next year will offer the young talent on the amateur scene an extra twelve months to hone their skills and develop their games on the Players Tour Championship series. 

By all accounts, this should mean that the quality at the bottom of the rankings will be just as competitive despite the rather sizeable rise in numbers. 

Another major alteration is that, following Q-School next May, new members will keep their professional status for two seasons rather than only one. 

This is a promising move because the solitary campaign was too cut-throat for many of the younger players and it has arguably prevented a lot of gifted cueists the opportunity to progress in the future as they have been forced to return to the amateur game or give the game up completely. 

On the other hand, it means that those who miss out on qualification through the qualifying school will risk having to wait two years for their opportunity to appear on the circuit. 

The final, but no less important, announcement is a proposal to completely transform the ranking system. 

Under the new guidelines, players would be ranked on prize money earned rather than ranking points given. 

This would certainly make it a lot easier for general fans to understand the ranking system and that in itself could provide the sport with more followers. 

However, there is a necessity to be cautious if the plan is given the green light because, currently, not every professional can make a living from the tournaments on offer. 

There will have to be a fundamental overhaul of the way prize-money is allocated because it would be impossible for those at the bottom of the rankings to make a leap forward otherwise. 

I find myself neither in favour nor opposed to this particular idea yet as there are many different ways of approaching it. 

But the ranking system has frequently been a source for debate over the last number of years so it may not be the worst idea to test it out. 

Prize money rankings is used to good effect in Hearn’s other venture, darts, and the cream of the crop always rise to the summit under whatever principles they are based on. 

Either way, some interesting motions that continue to suggest that the sport will have a vastly different semblance a decade from now. 

Creator of SnookerHQ and a journalism graduate, David has been actively reporting on snooker since 2011. He has been published in national publications and has appeared on BBC World News and on talkSPORT radio as an analyst.

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