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Last Updated: Friday, 22 April, 2005, 18:39 GMT 19:39 UK
Walker spells out Crucible future
By Jonathan Rawcliffe
BBC Sport at the Crucible

Richard Caborn, Sir Rodney Walker, Jan Wilson, and David Fletcher
Sir Rodney Walker (centre left) announced World Snooker's decision
World Snooker chairman Sir Rodney Walker claimed the sport's governing body were fully behind the move to keep the World Championship in Sheffield.

"The board was unanimous that their choice for both the championship and the location for the new snooker academy, would be Sheffield," he said.

"We anticipate that the World Championship will continue to be held, at least initially, in The Crucible.

"The academy will be in the English Institute of Sport in the Don Valley."

Following World Snooker's decision to allow other venues to bid for the right to stage the tournament, Sheffield's status as host city came under threat.

"The decision we have made was based on an assessment of all the elements in each of the bids," Walker said. "Six cities expressed an interest, and three submitted detailed and fully-costed bids.

"The championship may be held at The Crucible for the entire five years of the new contract. However, as part of the agreement with the city of Sheffield, there is a commitment by both parties to begin work now examining the feasibility of a new purpose-built venue.

"That may lead to a new venue before the end of this new contract - we shall have to wait and see."

The championship may be held at The Crucible for the entire five years of the new contract
Sir Rodney Walker

Walker added that the Crucible would undergo a 8-10m refurbishment in 2007, which would improve facilities inside the venue, but would not expand the number of seats in the arena.

"The academy and home for snooker will be established in the 25m English Institute of Sport," he continued. "We have been allocated 6,000 square feet of space inside that building to create the academy and office accommodation.

"We hope to establish a new federation of cue sports there, which will bring together the amateur bodies from within the UK and perhaps even the amateur organisations from Europe.

"This is a very exciting time for snooker, and I'm delighted that both these important aspects of snooker's future are to be held in Sheffield."

World Snooker made their decision public in Sheffield's Winter Gardens

Leader of Sheffield City Council Jan Wilson was elated by the decision.

"For 14 months people in Sheffield and within World Snooker have been working very hard to arrive at this point, and we're confident the success story will continue," she said.

"Snooker is hugely important to the city. It will be so nice to see the next generation of players come through the academy."

David Fletcher, marketing director for council agency Sheffield First for Investment, said: "It feels a bit like somebody must feel when they win the World Championship.

"There was an expectation within the city that somehow we would win it, and there were people outside the city that thought Sheffield was bound to hang onto it.

"But as Sir Rodney made clear today, it was a genuine bidding process. We had to come up with the best bid to secure it. I'm glad now that we did put the effort in," added Fletcher.

"I think it was down to the fact that we had the combination of the both the history of the sport, and we had the superb sports facilities that will now play a role in the snooker academy."





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