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Saturday, 9 November, 2002, 11:48 GMT
Time for change

Competitors in the British Open discovered on arrival at Telford on Saturday morning the prize fund had been cut from the advertised 666,800 to 450,000.

The 92,500 first prize has been reduced to 52,000, the runner-up, due to pocket 50,500, will now receive 26,000.

Cuts go all the way down to losers in the qualifying competition, who have already been paid at the original rates.


I believe this circuit could be a shell in two years

Losers in the last qualifying round, for example, will now have 650 deducted from their next World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association cheque.

These desperate measures indicate how near the WPBSA is to the financial wire.

From reserves of 3.1m, as at June 30, 2001, this figure has become 800,000, as the WPBSA admitted this week.

Three former world champions - Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and Terry Griffiths - are among those calling for the removal of the entire WPBSA board at an extraordinary general meeting on Wednesday.

Having earned my living from snooker for 30-odd years, and hoping to earn it for a few more, my sympathies are with them.

If they do not succeed, I believe this circuit could be a shell in two years.

Steve Davis
Davis wants to overthrow the WPBSA

It could all have been so different.

Acknowledging that it had to reduce the nine world ranking events it promoted last season to six this, the WPBSA appealed last January for a major investor.

Altium, who are backed by Warburg Pincus, the city finance house, offered to guarantee nine world ranking events and the Masters for nine years.

It proposed to acquire WPBSA's remaining television and sponsorship rights for a nominal 1 and inject an initial 2.5m.

So unwelcoming was WPBSA's attitude, Altium withdrew the offer, saying it would not deal with the current board.

Redistributing wealth

If Davis, Hendry and Griffiths succeed on Wednesday, Altium are open to another approach.

In the meantime, in the growing shadow of Wednesday's crunch meeting, the WPBSA has appointed a new company, World Snooker Enterprises, which is bringing in no new money but is guaranteeing eight ranking events.

However it appears that they can only do so be redistributing the WPBSA's existing funds, hence the shocking British Open prize-fund reduction.

See also:

08 Nov 02 | Snooker
05 Nov 02 | Snooker
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