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Last Updated: Friday, 16 June 2006, 13:46 GMT 14:46 UK
New event to kick off next season
World Snooker has announced that the forthcoming season will start with a new ranking event in Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland Trophy, which was an invitation event last year, takes place in Belfast and will be the first ranking event hosted by the country.

The world's top 32 players plus 16 qualifiers will take part in the competition which will be held at the Waterfront Hall between 13-20 August.

Prize money on the tour has increased by more than 400,000 to 3.26m.

"I have stated many times that our goal is to increase the number of ranking tournaments and the level of prize money and I'm delighted that we are now in a position to start fulfilling that promise," said World Snooker chairman Sir Rodney Walker.

"This growth has been achieved through our recent sponsorship and broadcast deals and it is only the first step in the development of the tour.

"We intend to continue to boost events and prize money in the coming seasons.

"Hopefully snooker fans and players will recognise this announcement as very encouraging news for the sport."

World Snooker Tour 2006/07:
13-20 Aug: Northern Ireland Trophy, Waterfront Hall, Belfast
2 Sept: Pot Black Cup, venue TBC
21-29 Oct: Grand Prix, Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre
4-17 Dec: UK Championship, Barbican Centre, York
14-21 Jan: The Masters, venue TBC
29 Jan-4 Feb: Malta Cup, Hilton Conference Centre, Portomaso
11-18 Feb: Welsh Open, venue TBC
25 Mar-1 Apr: China Open, Student Gymnasium, Beijing
21 Apr-7 May: World Snooker Championship, Crucible Theatre, Sheffield


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