A major row between two global snooker bodies has escalated further with World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association chairman Jason Ferguson furiously responding to claims made by the International Billiards and Snooker Federation against the WPBSA last week.
In a letter sent to the IBSF and all of its members, Ferguson countered the IBSF’s “numerous baseless allegations in relation to the conduct of the WPBSA.”
The IBSF had originally sent its own statement to its member federations a week ago after the WPBSA announced it had severed all ties with the amateur association.
The WPBSA first claimed that the IBSF had made “an inappropriate and unconstitutional attempt…to control seats within the World Confederation of Billiards Sports,” which is an umbrella corporation for cue sports that, until this month, Ferguson stood as president for before resigning his post as a board member.
It had been hoped that the WCBS could lead cue sports into a successful future bid to participate in an Olympic Games, although it seems that it will be decidedly difficult, or indeed impossible, for that mission to proceed as planned from now on.
In his letter, Ferguson states that during a WCBS board meeting on July 27th 2017, the WCBS received two written notices from the IBSF in which the latter expressed its intent to take control of snooker’s membership in the WCBS – excluding the WPBSA – and also purported to replace Maxime Cassis as General Secretary of the WCBS with current IBSF president Mubarak Al-Khayarin.
It has since been announced on the IBSF website that Al-Khayarin will become vice-president of the WCBS alongside Farook Barki, with Ian Anderson voted in as the new president.
Ferguson claims that the IBSF’s attempt to gain control was unconstitutional, given that the “WCBS Constitution is expressly clear in that the World Snooker Federation is the snooker member of the WCBS on the basis that the WPBSA and ISBF would be the constituent members of the WSF,” – an arrangement which was reached with the approval of the International Olympic Committee.
The formation, development, and structuring of the WSF has been one of the key sticking points in this entire saga.
The WPBSA and the IBSF shared a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with regard the WSF but neither party could agree on important components and it failed to properly get off the ground.
Ferguson said: “The principle of the MoU between the IBSF and the WPBSA and the proposed formation of the WSF were originally approved by the IOC.”
“Numerous meetings have been held between the IBSF and the WPBSA in order to try to agree the establishment of the WSF, without success.
“As you well know, the key obstacle to achieving that objective has been the actions of the IBSF due to its fear that the WSF would replace the IBSF, as you have referenced in your letter.
“It has been the IBSF which has blocked the incorporation of the WSF, not the WPBSA as you falsely claim.
“The WPBSA’s view was that the WSF should be incorporated as an English company to help to ensure that it had appropriate governance standards and transparency.
“We had proposed that the WSF should be a company limited by guarantee (being the form of entity adopted by many other sports governing bodies, including The European Billiards & Snooker Association (EBSA)).
“We had however also suggested an alternative proposal, for the WSF to be incorporated in Switzerland, being the jurisdiction of the IOC and many other international federations.”
Ferguson, a former professional who had a career-high ranking of 28, also addressed all the allegations in the IBSF’s August 3rd letter that the “WPBSA did several acts against the interests of the IBSF member countries.”
The Englishman asked for examples of how the WPBSA interfered in the internal affairs of the IBSF, as was claimed, and likewise how the WPBSA continued interfering in the internal affairs of some IBSF members.
Ferguson also lambasted the IBSF’s “extraordinary and nonsensical assertion that the IBSF is the sole official governing body for snooker.”
“The WPBSA has acted as a governing body to the World Snooker Tour for many years, as well as supporting many amateur federations and sports development initiatives.
“The only other body which has previously been considered the official governing body of billiard sports in the world was the Billiards and Snooker Control Council, the business and assets of which (including but not limited to all intellectual property and other rights to snooker and English Billiards) were acquired by the WPBSA in the 1990’s.”
“The WPBSA has never tried to exploit the WCBS for its own commercial interests, WPBSA is a not for profit international sports federation and any money generated is reinvested back into the sport.
“In fact, the WPBSA has only ever supported the WCBS in its aims and objectives.
“This has included the payment of membership fees and expenses to key third party
organisations when the WCBS was not in a position to make payments.
Ferguson later stated that “the WPBSA has not tried to ‘erase the IBSF from the world snooker scene’.”
“In line with the feedback from the IOC, the WPBSA does strongly believe that one worldwide governing body for snooker is a necessary step to maximise its chances of attaining an Olympic place.”
“The WPBSA also believes that, due to the WCBS’s refusal to comply with IOC-recognised governance best practice, there is now no question that new arrangements will need to be put in place to achieve the Olympic ambitions.”
It will be intriguing to see what these new arrangements will be but, regardless, snooker’s position as a global sport looks set to take another major shift into the unknown.