World Snooker supremo Barry Hearn has held his annual World Snooker Championship press conference at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield on Monday.
Of particular note was the revelation that next season’s winner of the blue riband tournament will receive a whopping £500,000 cheque as the top prize, although that had been expected after hinting at such this time last year.
Hearn also promised that there would be an increase in prize funds all the way down the tour structure, with the players lower down the rankings set to be rewarded with higher earnings from the earlier rounds of ranking events.
This has been a consistent talking point throughout the last number of seasons as prize money has escalated but increasingly become top heavy in favour of the players who reach the business end of competitions.
Hearn said that he wants to make it “easier but not easy” for the lower ranked players so that they can “feed themselves and their families”.
As it stands, players don’t receive any earnings if they lose in the opening round of a tournament, but the rewards are set to become greater for any victory that is achieved on the circuit.
Considering Alan McManus, the man who is set to finish this campaign in 64th place in the world rankings, has pocketed £86,900 during the last two seasons, competitors in that realm of the standings could soon be in line to break the £50k per season mark.
Meanwhile, Hearn also revealed that there will be an effort made to make the sport more appealing to the public, stating that “players need to entertain”.
The World Snooker chairman suggested that average shot times, which have been published on the World Snooker website in the last few months, will be highlighted in the future with slow players being named and shamed and potential warnings or fines given if there’s no effort made by them to speed up their play.
This will obviously divide opinion and could cause quite a lot of controversy as snooker has traditionally been a game that doesn’t abide by any stringent rules when it comes to the length of time required to take a shot.
Part of the attraction of snooker to a great deal of people is the fact that it is contested between so many different kinds of players, each providing contrasting styles that often provides more intriguing battles.
I despair when I hear them trying to change the game like this. Leave well alone!
— Snooker Hub (@snookerhub) April 30, 2018
How far the powers that be in the sport will go in an effort to change its overall image remains to be seen but it seems, at least, as though more tournaments that carry shot clocks will not be on the cards for now.
Joe Perry, who beat the defending champion Mark Selby in the first round of the World Championship last week, was quick to offer his backing for the plans to encourage faster play, tweeting that it’s “about time too”.
Meanwhile, the World Championship continues at the Crucible with the quarter-final line-up set to be determined by the end of the day’s play.