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Guaranteed World Snooker Tour prize money scheme extended

Players on the World Snooker Tour will be assured of earning at least £20,000 during the next two seasons.

The initiative that was launched last year to help struggling competitors on the main tour has been extended for another two years.

In theory, it will take some of the pressure and financial strain away from the lower-ranked cueists during the 2023/24 and 2024/25 campaigns.

Under the scheme, all players on the World Snooker Tour will be eligible to receive payments of £10,000 in July and again in January.

These payments, however, are offset against future prize money, meaning the players will have to pay the money back through monetary rewards earned at tournaments.

The number of professional tournaments on the calendar has dwindled in the last half-dozen or so years.

There has been a mixture of reasons for this, including the influence of COVID-19 restricting travel and forcing the cancellation for a prolonged period of lucrative competitions in China.

Three events in China are scheduled to take place during the upcoming snooker season, marking the World Snooker Tour’s first visit there since 2019.

However, there has been criticism of how WST has led the sport in recent times, with questionable management decisions apparently closing the doors on potential growth areas – notably across Europe.

The prominence of events like the World Grand Prix, Players Championship, and Tour Championship – where qualification is limited through the one-year rankings – has also made it harder for lower-ranked players to compete on a regular basis.

During the recent 2022/23 snooker season, 84 professionals managed to earn more than £20,000.

While there are lucrative sums available for the top stars, with Mark Allen and Luca Brecel both receiving more than half a million pounds from ranking-event winnings, it’s a different story in the midfield and below.

Only 40 players earned more than £50,000 on the one-year ranking list, contrasting with the 2018/19 term when 62 of the circuit’s participants surpassed that figure.

The reintroduction of events in China is a welcome boost for a sport still reeling from the scandal involving ten Chinese players who have all been banned for match-fixing or betting.

But there remains problems ahead, including ongoing battles to secure sponsorship and to fill the obvious gaps on the calendar.

Players near the bottom will be pleased and relieved to get their guarantee of £20,000, but what they really want is an increase in playing opportunities.

It’s up to the World Snooker Tour to deliver that.

Featured photo credit: WST

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