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Tuesday, 5 November, 2002, 12:55 GMT
WPBSA to foot bill
Stephen Hendry against Ken Docherty at the World Championships
Hendry has been critical of snooker's management
Snooker's ruling body will provide the prize money for this year's British Open.

And the prestigious event, which starts in Telford on Saturday, is not the only one without a sponsor.

The UK Championships will also be missing a financial backer as snooker attempts to rebuild its commercial image.

Despite the potential cash crisis, the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association insist the sport is not in terminal decline.

"The first point to make is that the deal with (bookmakers) Stan James to sponsor the British Open was just for last year," said Bruce Beckett, the WPBSA's head of media.

"The British Open did not have a sponsor before last year while the UK Championships have not had a sponsor for at least four years."

With tobacco sponsorship set to end, although the World Championships are unaffected, snooker is in dire need of new backers.

But the WPBSA believe they are doing their best to avoid a potential cash crisis.

They have already handed over their commercial interests to a dedicated company, World Snooker Enterprises.

"Snooker is facing a watershed in the fact that we have suffered from poor management in the past and we need a period of stability," Beckett told BBC Sport Online.

"But they (World Snooker Enterprises) have to perform and meet certain criteria, otherwise the WBPSA will simply take the commercial rights back."

Senior players such as Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry have already committed themselves to restructuring the way snooker is run at the top level.

The pair have called for an extraordinary general meeting, set for 13 November, in a bid to replace the existing board at the WPBSA.

See also:

18 Jan 02 | Snooker
04 Oct 02 | Sports Talk
18 Sep 02 | Snooker
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