Some progress was made at a recent meeting held between the WPBSA and the IBSF, hosted by the World Confederation of Billiards Sports in Lausanne last Thursday.
But it seems there remains a considerable way to go before the two competing organisations can fully see eye to eye with regard the future of cue sports.
Relations between the International Billiards and Snooker Federation and the World Professional Billards and Snooker Association have been fractured since their high-profile fallout last summer, which ultimately led to the latter’s formation of the World Snooker Federation.
The WCBS released a statement on Friday stating that it “does not recognise the newly formed WSF as an official entity within the WCBS structure.”
After the WPBSA made the announcement last July that it would be withdrawing the professional tour cards that had been traditionally awarded to IBSF World Championships winners in the past, the WSF has quickly proceeded to establish its own budding amateur circuit and a new route to the next level.
Earlier in January, the WSF announced its inaugural flagship championships, set to take place between the 14th and 24th of March at the Dolmen Hotel in Malta.
Only players from National Federations who are members of the WSF will be able to compete in the WSF Championships, where tour places and entry into the professional World Championship are up for grabs.
Furthermore, any player who wins the upcoming EBSA European Championship must also hail from a country that has affiliated itself with the WSF if he or she intends to have a possible nomination accepted by the WPBSA for a place on the Main Tour, with the deadline to become a WSF member fixed for the 31st of January.
The likes of the English, Scottish, Thai, and Australian National Federations have all already signed up as full WSF members but it is understood that the Republic of Ireland Billiards and Snooker Association has yet to join – meaning there is a chance that Irish players won’t be able to fight for Main Tour places this season.
Why there is any hesitation for any national federation when the WSF doesn’t have an exclusivity clause and allows its members to also be affiliated with the IBSF is unknown on a case by case basis, but a refusal would appear to amount to a serious bout of cutting off your nose to spite your face.
With its close association with the WPBSA, the WSF is obviously going to play an important role in the future of the sport from the grassroots up.
That said, it’s a pity that the WSF won’t release a proper list of the members that it has already garnered, releasing news in dribs and drabs instead.
Surely, with the sport’s history of often messy behind-the-scenes handling, wouldn’t it be better to begin life as a new organisation with a fresh sense of transparency, rather than having to continuously second guess where everyone stands?
I’ve personally had several people contact me curious, understandably so, to learn which nations have become WSF members, with no clear indication as to where to point them.
Still, it seems like there could be some reason for optimism when it comes to the relationship between the WSF and the IBSF, who will likely have to coexist together for the foreseeable future.
The WPBSA said following the meeting: “There was clear progress as the IBSF recognised that the WSF would continue to exist as a pathway for Players to attain professional status, although there were differences of opinion as to how this could be achieved.”
“The WPBSA confirmed that if the WPBSA holds individual membership of the WCBS, it also holds this membership on behalf of the WSF and its many members.
“It was firmly established at the meeting that for qualification to the World Snooker Tour federations staging or sending players to tour qualifying events must be members of the World Snooker Federation.
“The WSF has always been clear that National Federations can be members of any other National, Regional or International Federation and this remains the case.
“It was recognised by all parties that the WCBS constitution is in need of review to ensure compliance to the current Olympic Charter.
“The WPBSA feels that it was unfortunate that following this meeting the WCBS saw fit to release a statement saying that it does not recognise the WSF, considering the WSF formed a significant part of these discussions.
“It is our view that this was misleading, premature, and unhelpful to the proposed discussions between the WPBSA/WSF and IBSF.”
Representatives of the WPBSA and IBSF will meet again on the 6th of February in Frankfurt in an effort to further discussions.