Higgins speaks out (again)

Not for the first time recently, double world champion John Higgins has been talking about the state of snooker and his belief that snooker should become a more global game that it is at present.

Quoted on Wales and West News & Sport, Higgins says:

“Since I’ve been getting into the organising of events, I can see that the interest is there, so I just can’t understand why World Snooker does not want to go into these markets.

“Instead we have to go to Newport in Wales (for the Welsh Open), which, and I don’t think I’m been too harsh in saying this, has to be one of the most depressing towns I’ve ever been too. And the crowds there are always terrible too.”

“Everybody talks about Sheffield being the home of snooker and the Crucible being the most important venue but it is actually Prestatyn.

“People in China and Europe have never even heard of Prestatyn and yet we expect them to travel to this little place in North Wales if they want to make it as a snooker player, it is absolute nonsense.”

“I’ve just come back from playing at the Shanghai Masters and the way that the event was run was first class.

“If the Chinese want to come in and make the prize pool bigger and put on a high-quality tournament, then we should give them the chance.

“As a sport, we have to realise that we are not big enough to stand still. Other sports can do that, they have sponsors coming to them, but we need to go out and look for it ourselves.”

While the website has focused on the negative comments about Newport and Wales, it seems to me that Higgins’ real problem is not so much with those places, but more with the state of snooker in general at the moment.

You only have to look at the calendar to see that five of the eight ranking events are currently held in the UK, along with the prestigious Masters event, the Premier League and all of the ranking event qualifiers which are held in Prestatyn. If snooker is to truly be a global game then this cannot be allowed to continue and it is good to see the likes of Higgins bringing the game to mainland Europe with the World Series and other events.

Over the years at the Crucible I have met and spoken to several people from places such as Germany and Russia who as Higgins says, so have a great interest in the game and spend a lot of money coming over here to see the top players in action every year. Surely it could only be a good thing to have some ranking events over in mainland Europe? The interest is clearly there and hopefully over time the likes of Higgins will help to make this happen.

For an interesting perspective on the future direction of snooker, please click here to read the thoughts of Pat Mooney, Higgins’ manager who spoke recently on the World Series forums.