Mark Allen has doubts on whether or not the WPBSA Players board can wield enough power to influence significant change in snooker.
Shaun Murphy, Matthew Selt, and Mark Davis were voted onto the WPBSA Players board after an AGM last month.
The three players, who have joined chairman Ken Doherty and former pro Nigel Bond on the committee, have expressed ambitions to influence positive change for fellow cueists competing on the World Snooker Tour.
Spotlight has been shone on the board’s role in recent times following a string of difficulties involving some players and the sport’s powers, most notably the controversy surrounding the so-called Macau Five.
Reigning world champion Luca Brecel, in addition to Mark Selby, John Higgins, Ali Carter, and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, were threatened with legal action by WST after attempting to participate in an unsanctioned Macau event that clashed with the same dates as the Northern Ireland Open earlier this term.
The situation was eventually resolved, temporarily at least, with the postponement of the Macau tournament.
But while questions remain over the lack of power that players possess, Allen thinks that the WPBSA Players board will provide only a limited effect.
“I don’t know how much I should say on this,” Mark Allen told Stephen Hendry on the latest episode of the Cue Tips Youtube channel.
“But I genuinely believe that, no matter who is on that board, things aren’t going to change. I just don’t think they have enough power on the Players board.”
“I know Matt (Selt) has got on, and I voted for him. I think he’s our only hope, even though there are other ones on it.
“I think he’s very opinionated, but he’s quite articulate. He speaks well, so I think if he can’t get any change done from the inside, I don’t think we’ve got any chance.
“But I think it might take something a bit more drastic than that.
“With regards to Macau and that, it would be great if we got to a scenario where the players can play in whatever they want.
“I had a good meeting with the WST board and that at the UK Champs, and they did open my eyes to some of their reasoning behind those decisions.
“I’m not saying I agree with them, but I do understand it.
“What I try and say is, there were some players who were offered the chance to go to Macau and get maybe £100,000 for turning up.
“And there’s a tournament in Belfast, which is obviously my favourite tournament of the year, and there’s £80,000 to the winner.
“So, like, you do the math. Why would you go to Belfast if you’re getting offered (that)? So World Snooker have to, in my opinion, make these events more appealing.
“If there’s £150,000 for the winner in Belfast, people probably don’t even come and play in Macau.
“So I think there’s a bit of wiggle room that World Snooker can do better as well.”
Murphy, who received 29 votes from fellow players to be voted onto the WPBSA Players board, had a more positive outlook when speaking on the topic in December.
“I think what’s happened in recent months with the Macau Five and those rival tour situations, there’s quite a lot going on behind the scenes,” Murphy said on the OneFourSeven Snooker Podcast.
“Some of which I can talk about, and some of which I can’t, with promoters pretending to be players’ representatives out in China.”
“There’s a lot of lies being told. There’s a lot of underhanded tactics being used by a lot of people.
“I think the players have woken up to their own commercial power, and they’ve realised that they can have a say in this game.
“Barry Hearn has retired. He has stepped away and is in a named position only now.
“Steve Dawson is running the sport along with Simon Brownell at WST. They’re a little bit more open to debate I think.
“I think the players have gone, ‘do you know what? I think we can have a good robust debate, a professional debate around these topics. I’m going to get involved, cast my vote, and see what happens.’ – it’s great, great news.
“(But) you very quickly have to understand who is responsible for what. The Players Board is as it sounds. It’s for the players, by the players.”
“We are not commercial agents. We are not necessarily that commercially minded, and we’re looking at it from the point of view of players trying to improve players’ issues.
“We want to improve things like, how long it takes players to get paid from Chinese events. Currently, it’s between eight to ten weeks, which we think is ridiculous.
“They are the types of issues that we’re going to be looking at.
“We’re currently into a massive debate over the future of the game in terms of bringing back a full tiered system across all events versus the flat 128 draws.
“It’s just not as straightforward as you might think. There’s lots of issues in and around that.
“I tentatively, almost tongue in cheek, throw in scrapping snookers and having the spotted cue ball.
“I do think the spotted cue ball would be a great addition to the coverage, I have to admit.
“These are obviously very little things, these aren’t things that were in my manifesto. But yeah, it’ll be interesting to see.
“You run into that brick wall of course, where you realise that a player’s aspirations and a player’s dreams don’t always line up with the commercialisation of a sport.
“WST are a profit-making business. They’re not there to service the whims and wishes of the players. They are there to make money through the promotion of snooker.
“So those things don’t always align. I guess our job as board members is to keep the players as happy as possible.”
Allen and Murphy had contrasting fortunes on Wednesday while competing at the World Grand Prix, meanwhile.
Defending champion Allen continued his reign by compiling a hat-trick of tons in a 4-2 defeat of Jack Lisowski in the first round.
Murphy, though, bowed out in the last 16 after being thumped 4-0 by Cao Yupeng.
2024 World Grand Prix draw and schedule
Round of 32 (bo7)
Judd Trump 4-2 Jamie Jones
Lyu Haotian 4-3 Chris Wakelin
Mark Selby 4-3 Yuan Sijun
Ali Carter 4-3 Wu Yize
Barry Hawkins 3-4 Cao Yupeng
John Higgins 0-4 Shaun Murphy
Hossein Vafaei 4-3 Matthew Selt
Mark Williams 4-3 Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
Zhang Anda 4-2 Dominic Dale
Mark Allen 4-2 Jack Lisowski
Noppon Saengkham 4-1 Xiao Guodong
Ding Junhui 4-3 Ricky Walden
Tom Ford 4-1 Jordan Brown
Gary Wilson 4-2 David Gilbert
Zhou Yuelong 4-1 Stephen Maguire
Ronnie O’Sullivan 4-2 Pang Junxu
Round of 16 (bo7)
Judd Trump 4-0 Lyu Haotian
Mark Selby 4-3 Ali Carter
Cao Yupeng 4-0 Shaun Murphy
Hossein Vafaei 1-4 Mark Williams
Zhang Anda 4-2 Mark Allen
Noppon Saengkham 1-4 Ding Junhui
Tom Ford 2-4 Gary Wilson
Zhou Yuelong 3-4 Ronnie O’Sullivan
Judd Trump 5-1 Mark Selby
Cao Yupeng 5-4 Mark Williams
Zhang Anda 2-5 Ding Junhui
Gary Wilson 1-5 Ronnie O’Sullivan
Judd Trump 6-2 Cao Yupeng
Ding Junhui 1-6 Ronnie O’Sullivan
Judd Trump 7-10 Ronnie O’Sullivan
Featured photo credit: WST