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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 October 2006, 15:13 GMT 16:13 UK
New Wembley home for the Masters
John Higgins celebrates after rolling in the final black
John Higgins is the reigning Masters champion
London's Wembley Arena is to take over as the host venue for the Masters invitational tournament from 2007.

Wembley Conference Centre - the event's home for 26 years - has been demolished to make way for redevelopment.

The Arena recently underwent a 35m facelift, and the Masters will use around a third of its main auditorium.

Saga Insurance has extended its Masters sponsorship until 2009, and Jimmy White and Ding Junhui have both been awarded wildcards for the 14-21 January event.

Londoner White, one of the tournament's most popular players, has benefitted from an additional third wildcard being awarded.

The 44-year-old's world ranking has tumbled to a provisional 50th in the world, and he recently failed to qualify for this month's Grand Prix in Aberdeen.

"I'm absolutely delighted to be awarded a wildcard," said the 1984 Masters champion.

"It's my favourite event other than the World Championship. I'm sure I'll get great support again at Wembley - my fans there are fantastic."

Chinese prodigy Ding, 19, has won the China Open, UK Championship and Northern Ireland Trophy in the last 20 months.

The final wildcard will be awarded to the winner of a qualifying tournament, which will be staged from 4-9 November. The world's top 16 players qualify automatically.

The Masters is covered extensively by the BBC, and last year's thrilling final saw John Higgins edge out Ronnie O'Sullivan 10-9.

The 2007 tournament will have an added poignancy following the death from cancer earlier this week of three-time winner Paul Hunter.



SEE ALSO
White's Grand Prix hopes dashed
03 Oct 06 |  Snooker
Higgins claims Masters thriller
23 Jan 06 |  Snooker
Search on for new Masters venue
18 Jan 06 |  Snooker


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