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Page last updated at 16:59 GMT, Thursday, 22 April 2010 17:59 UK

Peter Ebdon hits out at Barry Hearn's snooker proposals

Peter Ebdon
Former world champion Peter Ebdon has slipped out of the provisional top 16

Former world champion Peter Ebdon says players "cannot possibly back" Barry Hearn's proposed takeover of the sport.

Snooker chief Hearn wants to take a controlling interest in World Snooker in order to implement his ideas for promoting the game worldwide.

But Ebdon explained: "He's asking a lot for the players to hand over 51% of the commercial rights to World Snooker, which is worth millions each year."

Players will vote whether to hand Hearn a controlling interest on 5 May.

"You cannot possibly give control of the association away under any circumstances," said Ebdon, who suffered a first-round defeat by Graeme Dott at the World Championship on Wednesday.

"If I went to Barry Hearn and said, 'Look Barry, you know that company that you've built up over 20-30 years, Matchroom, you don't mind giving me 51% do you?', he'd tell me where to go.

"The players need to understand this is not for a year, this is not for two years, this is not for five years, this is not for 10 years, this is it, forever, gone."

Hearn's proposals include a seventh ranking tournament in Berlin planned for next year and a pro tour of up to 20 events.

Given a vote in his favour, Hearn's Matchroom business would take the controlling share in World Snooker and leave the rest in the hands of players and fellow promoters.


And Ebdon, the 2002 world champion, is not the only person to voice concerns over the proposals.

Lee Doyle, who manages snooker stars including Ronnie O'Sullivan and Stephen Hendry, quit the board of the sport's governing body a week ago, after objecting to Hearn's proposals.

However, world number one O'Sullivan, world champion John Higgins, Neil Robertson and many other leading names have given their full support to the man who has made darts fashionable, in turn making attendances and prize money dramatically increase.

"I'm 100% for it, I don't have any doubt whatsoever," said 28-year-old Robertson.

"There's a couple of people who have said a few bits and bobs about how the players have never had to give away a part of the game, but I think what Barry is offering is fantastic.

"He's got all the plans to take the game forward where nobody else does.

"We've got this big vote coming up after the World Championship and I'm just hoping that all the players can see the big picture."

Shaun Murphy, the 2005 world champion, is also backing Hearn's planned shake-up.

"From what I understand of the changes that are happening I'm 100% supportive," he said.

"Someone said to me the other day, 'You wouldn't want to see the snooker like the darts would you?'. I said, 'What? More tournaments and more prize-money to play for?'.

"That's what we've been asking for for years, to have more events and more opportunities to play, and that's what he brings."

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see also
Doyle quits over Hearn proposals
13 Apr 10 |  Snooker
Hearn must be backed - O'Sullivan
07 Apr 10 |  Snooker
Barry Hearn Q&A
04 Apr 10 |  Snooker
O'Sullivan handed tricky opener
11 Mar 10 |  Snooker
Hearn warns players of mediocrity
12 Mar 10 |  Snooker
Hearn looking to conquer Europe
19 Jan 10 |  Snooker
O'Sullivan hails Hearn influence
09 Jan 10 |  Snooker
Hearn confirmed as snooker chief
17 Dec 09 |  Snooker
Snooker on the BBC
08 Apr 11 |  Snooker

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