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Barry Hearn plans 'quick fix' to revive snooker

Barry Hearn
Hearn is a successful boxing promoter and owner of Orient

By John Sinnott

Promoter Barry Hearn's "quick fix" for snooker could involve new faster versions of the sport being introduced.

Hearn is poised to be named chairman of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) after Sir Rodney Walker was voted out.

Snooker great Steve Davis is also set to be brought on to the WPBSA board.

"There'll be more formats," Hearn told BBC Sport. "I'll try to be innovative and creative. The patient is not dead - it just needs waking up," he added.

Snooker must go worldwide - Davis

Hearn suggested that snooker needed to learn from the example of the Indian Premier League, prizefighting boxing and darts if it is to recapture the huge interest that the sport once had.

"We need a fresh approach," said Hearn, who promised to have a masterplan ready to show the players by the time the World Championship is held in April. "How can we make the sport more attractive to young people and sponsors?"

With the exception of events like the World Championship, one of Hearn's major concerns is the sport's tournaments go on for too long, dampening the interest of television, potential sponsors and snooker fans.

"We need quick results and quicker entertainment," said Hearn, who already runs snooker's Premier and Champions Leagues.

"We need a pro-tour where you'd have weekend events with a prize pot of £25,000."

Hearn, who also chairs the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC), pointed to his success in reviving that sport in recent years, as evidence that snooker was capable of reinventing itself.

Darts matches are now regularly played out in front of 9,000 fans and prize money at the 2010 PDC World Championship is set to reach the £1m mark.

Steve Davis and Barry Hearn
Hearn and Davis have known each other for over 30 years

"Darts prize money has grown tenfold and we're getting television figures that are only second to football," said Hearn, who took over as PDC chairman in 2001.

"Ten years ago a top-10 darts player would be very fortunate to earn £50,000 a year. Now a top-eight player would be on £250,000. I don't know too many miserable darts players."

Ahead of the WPBSA annual general meeting which voted Walker out, Hearn had been backed by a number of leading snooker players.

Stars like Mark Selby have complained that with gaps of up six weeks between tournaments means he is effectively a "part-time professional".

And Essex-born Hearn promised the players that they would be much busier in future.

"I've got an awful lot of research to do but I know the players want more opportunities to play," said Hearn, who is also a successful boxing promoter and owner of Leyton Orient football club.

"We have a fantastic relationship with the BBC and I want to continue that, but the game needs other television outlets. We have to create more events and we have to keep the players busier.

"Snooker is a good game, but we need to provide value for money and have more fun.

606: DEBATE
606 Space-Time

"I'm constantly thinking of how we can liven up this game, but it must have entertainment value."

As well as Walker, Jim McMahon and Mike Dunn were also voted off the board and remaining members Lee Doyle and Dr Hamish McInnes are likely to co-opt Hearn and Davis in the next few days.

"Steve is a world ambassador for snooker," said Hearn. "His integrity is beyond reproach."

As well as darts, snooker, boxing and football, Hearn has also been involved in promoting poker, fishing and pool.



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see also
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Snooker world tour plan unveiled
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Is the future of snooker secure?
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O'Sullivan wants X Factor glitz
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World Snooker to stay at Crucible
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Snooker boosted by sponsor deal
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Snooker droopy?
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Huge financial blow hits snooker
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Snooker on the BBC
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