The players would have to be regularly tested, follow strict guidelines, and compete behind closed doors under the proposed plan.
After months of inaction due to the COVID-19 pandemic, snooker could be one of the first sports to return in the UK next month.
In an article by snooker journalist Hector Nunns for the Daily Star, it has been reported that a tournament could start as early as June 1st.
That date is the earliest possible in which sport in the UK can begin to make its comeback following the lockdown, under the recently announced phased recovery plan by the government.
World Snooker Tour chairman Barry Hearn is wasting no time in attempting to get the sport up and running again.
The last snooker tournament was the Gibraltar Open in March, which world number one Judd Trump triumphed in to secure a record-breaking sixth ranking title for a single season.
The conclusion of that event was conducted without an audience, and any event in June would have to follow a similar structure.
A Championship League style competition seems the most likely format that would be followed, with 64 players set to be involved at the Morningside Arena in Leicester.
In a letter that was sent to the players on the professional circuit, Hearn also suggested that the event could be aired live on ITV.
The Championship League is a non-ranking tournament that has been staged behind closed doors every season since 2008, with Scott Donaldson emerging with the trophy in the latest edition earlier this year.
Players would have to adhere to strict guidelines – including having to take their own equipment like rests and spiders, while after passing a health screening test upon entry to the venue they would subsequently be unable to leave throughout the day without first gaining permission by the authorities.
Before being accepted as an entrant, all the players would also be required to undergo a throat swab test for COVID-19.
A first prize worth £20,000 would be on offer, and the competition could potentially provide the players with valuable match practice ahead of the rescheduled World Snooker Championship later in the summer.
The Championship League does not provide any ranking points, so it would not directly influence a player’s survival on the Main Tour, or qualification for the Crucible.
However, with dozens of overseas competitors on the circuit, and with many set to be forced into self-isolation or quarantine upon arrival into the UK, upcoming opportunities may not be equal for all concerned.
Of course, whether any of these events actually materialise remains unknown, with everything dependent on how the UK continues to deal with the coronavirus crisis.
Either way, the opportunistic Hearn is evidently set on making snooker the first comeback sport – which could now be as early as a fortnight away.
Featured photo credit: WST