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Friday, 16 February, 2001, 14:43 GMT
Snooker's revolution diary
Hendry and White have backed TSN
Hendry and White have backed TSN
BBC Sport Online looks at the history of snooker's breakaway.

At the start of the snooker season in August there was no inkling of the civil war that now threatens to change the game forever.

At that time, The Sportsmasters Network was simply an internet company which had money to invest in snooker.

In September 2000, TSN revealed it was willing to put 3.3m into sponsoring the events which did not have a sponsor.

These were the Champions Cup, the British Open, the Grand Prix and the Nations Cup but a deal fell through.


The circuit has become jaded because nothing has developed in the last five or six years
  Stephen Hendry
The company also offered to set up and maintain the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association's website as well as investing time, technology and manpower in covering WPBSA events live on the internet.

This too was rejected and it was then the sport's governing body, the WPBSA, opened itself up to a rival circuit threat.

At the start of December 2000, the WPBSA failed to give their backing to a new world tour, which would include a minimum of 10 events around the world, proposed by TSN.

At that time TSN claimed they were not trying to form a breakaway circuit.

Their initial plan was to integrate with the WPBSA circuit.

However TSN's new sponsors did not want to be involved in a sport which had a dominant tobacco sponsorship.

TSN was also bemused that the WPBSA had turned down its offer of sponsorship.

Support

On 6 December 2000, TSN announced plans to initiate a world tour which would feature events in Dubai, Thailand, Malta and China.

A day later seven-time world snooker champion Stephen Hendry became the first to declare he was backing the breakaway tour.

Hendry said snooker needed new focus, adding: "The circuit has become jaded because nothing has developed in the last five or six years."

On 25 January 2001, former world snooker champions John Higgins pledged his support to the WPBSA.

The world number two signed a three-year contract with World Snooker to promote the organisation and its tournaments.

Two days later John Parrott revealed he was staying with the WPBSA too.

But almost immediately, Jimmy White and Ronnie O'Sullivan announced they were defecting - leaving the WPBSA with only five out of the top 16 ranked players.


This looks like a fight to a finish between competing tours each with its own World Championship
  Clive Everton
The governing body was boosted on 7 February by the news that BBC Television said they would honour their six-year contract estimated to be worth 23m to show tournaments.

But now the future of the WPBSA - and its flagship Embassy World Championship - have again been further thrown into doubt with the announcement of a rival event.

TSN unveiled on 16 February that a rival world championship will take place on the exact same dates as the traditional Crucible event.

BBC snooker correspondent Clive Everton said the situation was serious.

"This looks like a fight to a finish between competing tours each with its own World Championship," he told BBC Sport Online.

Whatever the outcome, snooker is set for the biggest revolution in its history.

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See also:

16 Feb 01 |  Other Sports
Split threatens Crucible's status
14 Feb 01 |  Sports Talk
Is snooker snookered?
15 Feb 01 |  Other Sports
New sponsor joins ruling body
12 Feb 01 |  Other Sports
O'Sullivan chooses breakaway circuit
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