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Page last updated at 22:54 GMT, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 23:54 UK

Walker denies snooker cash crisis

Ronnie O'Sullivan
Saga Insurance will no longer form a backdrop at the Wembley Masters

Sir Rodney Walker says snooker will cope with the withdrawal of two of its main sponsors, insisting it does not herald a "crisis" for the game.

World Championship sponsors 888.com are quitting their five-year deal after three years and Saga Insurance will no longer back the Wembley Masters.

But Walker, chairman of World Snooker and the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, is unfazed.

"It's a disappointment but not a shock, not a blow," he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

The withdrawal of 888.com and Saga Insurance is being estimated to come at a cost of 1.5m to the game, with snooker's governing body (the WPBSA) saying the companies blame the "current economic climate" for their decisions.

But Walker is adamant that snooker has put in place a contingency plan.

606: DEBATE
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"We've known about it for four weeks but, despite that, we did announce only two weeks ago that the prize money for 2008/09 would be increased by 250,000," he said.

"The reason it's a disappointment and not a crisis, is that over the last four years we have built up the reserves of World Snooker to in excess of 4m.

"You build up reserves for situations such as this."

He also insisted that commercial opportunities for snooker are growing.

"I'm confident we will replace both sponsors," he said. "They've both had fundamental changes in the ways their businesses operate.

"We have three new tournaments in China, and they want a fourth, and we'll be announcing a new tournament in the Middle East next week."



see also
Huge financial blow hits snooker
06 Aug 08 |  Snooker
Crucible review
06 May 08 |  Snooker


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