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  Thursday, 28 November, 2002, 17:56 GMT
Snooker: Turbulent times
Peter Ebdon won the 2002 World Championship
Ebdon beat Hendry to win the World Championship

More often than not, snooker headlines in 2002 were dominated by politics rather than the players.

Peter Ebdon claimed the world title for the first time, but the sport's future was in the balance after new government legislation meant it had to cut ties with its tobacco sponsors.

With only Embassy allowed to maintain its relationship with the World Championship, snooker's governing body, the WPBSA, sought a partner to ease its financial plight.

Up stepped Altium, a consortium which promised an initial cash injection of 2.5m, a world ranking circuit of nine events and a tour for a minimum five years.

But it withdrew its offer after failing to reach a compromise with the board at the WPBSA.

As a result of apparently seeing little or no action, a rebel group led by former world champions Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis and Terry Griffiths, was formed to oust the current board and introduce new governors.

But professional players voted 48-26 in November to keep the current board and for the sport to be jointly run by the WPBSA and World Snooker Enterprises (WSE), who would handle the commercial rights.

The WSE's plan was to stage eight world ranking tournaments and one invitational event for the 2002-2003 season with total prize money of 5.9m.

But with the number of ranking tournaments cut down to six for the season and prize money trimmed for the British Open, the future of snooker is yet again in doubt.

Away from the wranglings, Paul Hunter won his second successive Benson and Hedges Masters title with 10-9 victory over world number one Mark Williams.

It was a win Hunter partly owed to his girlfriend, who gave the Leeds star a much-needed boost during an interval in the final.

But the highlight of the season came at the Worlds, when Peter Ebdon reversed the 1996 result to beat seven-time champion Stephen Hendry.

The title came down to a final-frame decider, where Ebdon seized the initiative after capitalising on Hendry's mistakes.

The start of the 2002-2003 season saw UK champion Ronnie O'Sullivan catapulted to number one.

However, he, like many of the other top players were left trailing as 150-1 outsider Chris Small of Scotland took the first ranking event of the season, the LG Cup in October.

And a month later, Hunter again showed good early season form to win the British Open - this time without the help of his girlfriend.

Finally, legend Alex Higgins announced plans to make a comeback, but the Hurricane's bid appears to have been blown off course.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
LG Cup - Chris Small
"It's like a dream"
Kung Fu Ebdon
Snooker champ calls on his karate alter ego
B&H Masters - Paul Hunter
"It was an exciting final"
In-depth look back at a wonderful year of sport

Major events

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Sport in mourning

Funny Old Year

Sports Personality

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See also:

14 Nov 02 | Snooker
13 Nov 02 | Snooker
05 Nov 02 | Snooker
22 Aug 02 | Snooker
06 May 02 | World Champs 2002
07 May 02 | World Champs 2002
07 Feb 02 | Snooker
09 Oct 02 | Snooker
Links to more Sports Reviews stories are at the foot of the page.


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