Barry Hearn
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Barry Hearn – ‘Money has the edge every time’

Barry Hearn has once again called on Sheffield to fund a bigger venue that can stage the World Snooker Championship.

The World Snooker Tour supremo, formerly the chairman but now operating in a president role, discussed the contentious matter live on the BBC on Wednesday.

Debate surrounding the future of the Crucible Theatre has been rampant so far during the 2024 edition of the World Snooker Championship.

The famous venue in Sheffield has staged the prestigious tournament since 1977, but its current contract expires in 2027.

With limited capacity and aged facilities, there have been growing whispers that the sport’s blue-riband event could be moved elsewhere.

China has long been touted as a possible destination, while Riyadh Season’s recent interest in snooker has increased the possibility that it could move to Saudi Arabia.

Hearn, who formerly managed Steve Davis to six world titles at the Crucible Theatre, insisted that he would prefer to see the World Championship stay in Sheffield, but that money ultimately talks.

“Nothing much has changed,” Barry Hearn said on the BBC ahead of the first-round match between Ronnie O’Sullivan and Jackson Page.

“I am doing absolutely everything to stay in Sheffield, and it takes two to tango. I’ll stay here while we are wanted, and I think we’re wanted.”

“I know we are wanted by the BBC. I think we’re wanted by Sheffield, but they’ve got to be realistic.

“We have said for the last few years we need a new venue that seats 2,500-3,000 people, because I am fed up of getting letters from people all over the world asking how they can get a ticket.

“I’m looking to Sheffield to come to the party, and if they do we’re staying. If they don’t, they’re really saying to me, ‘we don’t want you’. So it’s not really my call.

“Money has the edge every time, we live in the real world.

“If there are deals out there that are going to change people’s lives and increase profitability, there’s not really a choice to make.

“The Crucible has a fantastic history, it has been a massive part of my life.

“But we’ve all got to live in the real world, there’s a price for everything in today’s world whether we like it or not.

“I don’t like it and I want to stay here. I can’t do any more than say I need help, I need a reason to stay here.

“I can’t be more loyal to Sheffield than I have but everybody needs to pull in the right direction.

“Let’s be honest, if you leave out the romantic stuff and things like that, in a business sense, snooker is a professional sport played by professional sportsmen.

“Their first demand across any sport is prize money. They want to see it as big as possible.

“We, as custodians of the sport, have a fiduciary duty to those players.

“The Middle East backers, but also the Chinese backers, are not renowned in their life to not getting want the want, and they want it now.

“Take the emotion out of business, because life doesn’t work like that.”

Earlier this week, Hossein Vafaei created headlines when he bemoaned the state of the Crucible Theatre following his round one loss to Judd Trump.

“Everything is so bad,” Hossein Vafaei said. “If you ask me if I want to come back here, I would tell you no way.”

“Forget the history. You want to go somewhere really nice as a player. You walk round the Crucible and it smells really bad.

“You go to other countries, and everything is shiny. But here it’s completely different. The practice room – do you see anything special?

“I feel like I’m practicing in a garage.”

2024 World Snooker Championship Draw

Round 1 (bo19)

Luca Brecel (1) 9-10 David Gilbert
Robert Milkins (16) 10-9 Pang Junxu
Ali Carter (9) 7-10 Stephen Maguire
Shaun Murphy (8) 10-5 Lyu Haotian

Mark Selby (5) 6-10 Joe O’Connor
Kyren Wilson (12) 10-1 Dominic Dale
John Higgins (13) 10-6 Jamie Jones
Mark Allen (4) 10-6 Robbie Williams

Judd Trump (3) 10-5 Hossein Vafaei
Tom Ford (14) 10-6 Ricky Walden
Zhang Anda (11) 4-10 Jak Jones
Mark Williams (6) 9-10 Si Jiahui

Ding Junhui (7) 9-10 Jack Lisowski
Gary Wilson (10) 5-10 Stuart Bingham
Barry Hawkins (15) 8-10 Ryan Day
Ronnie O’Sullivan (2) 10-1 Jackson Page

Round 2 (bo25)

David Gilbert 13-4 Robert Milkins (16)
Stephen Maguire 13-9 Shaun Murphy (8)

Joe O’Connor 6-13 Kyren Wilson (12)
John Higgins (13) 13-12 Mark Allen (4)

Judd Trump (3) 13-7 Tom Ford (14)
Jak Jones 13-9 Si Jiahui

Jack Lisowski 11-13 Stuart Bingham
Ryan Day 7-13 Ronnie O’Sullivan (2)

Quarter-Finals (bo25)

David Gilbert 13-8 Stephen Maguire
Kyren Wilson (12) 13-8 John Higgins (13)

Judd Trump (3) 9-13 Jak Jones
Stuart Bingham 13-10 Ronnie O’Sullivan (2)

Semi-Finals (bo33)

David Gilbert 11-17 Kyren Wilson (12)
Jak Jones 17-12 Stuart Bingham

Final (bo35)

Kyren Wilson (12) 18-14 Jak Jones

Click here for the latest live scores and session times.

Featured photo credit: WST

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