Jason Francis, the snooker promoter behind the popular Snooker Legends exhibition circuit, has today announced a new World Seniors Tour.
Francis took the reigns of the World Seniors Championship last season and has duly responded to the positive feedback he received to launch a new circuit for legends and amateur players over the age of 40.
Other sports such as golf and tennis have proven that there can be a market, often lucrative, for senior players to thrive in even though they have long since passed their peak years of participation.
The development will be welcomed by a lot of former stars who will once again get the opportunity to ply their trade competitively and with meaning, while others who never made it professionally will now have their chance to mix it on an exciting new tour.
Stephen Hendry will lead the list of heavyweight ex-champions who will be competing on the tour, with the likes of John Parrott, Dennis Taylor, and Joe Johnson also expected to be in action.
Hendry also tweeted that it was “amazing to now have Jimmy White and Ken Doherty on board,” which does seem a little strange considering they have been granted two-year invitational tour cards for the Main Tour, but certainly does make sense to include them in the greater scheme of marketing the new series.
The new Seniors Tour will comprise four events, including the World Seniors Championship which will return to Scunthorpe in 2018.
There will also be a UK Championship in Surrey later this year, an Irish Masters at Goffs at the turn of the new year, and a prestigious Masters invitational at the Crucible Theatre the week before the World Championship itself gets under way in Sheffield next spring.
Formats vary for each but amateurs will have the opportunity to qualify for each tournament alongside the legends of the game, with preliminary rounds to be staged in the UK and Ireland predominently, as well as China for the World Seniors Championship.
Additionally, there will be prize money on offer and for the first time there’ll be an official World Seniors rankings list.
A prize of a Kia car worth more than £30,000 will be given to any player who can make a 147 break at any of the four events during the final stages.
The entire initiative is a brilliant idea and, in the hands of Francis, there is the promise that it’ll be well delivered to the paying public.
It’s a fantastic opportunity for the older players to get their competitive juices flowing again, and for the audience to be entertained once more by some of the stars of years gone by.
Below is the calendar and the dates to look out for if you are a fan or a player.