Pocket Money II

When I first started Pro Snooker Blog last summer, one of my first first stories was that on Michael Georgiou and his financial struggle as one of the lower-ranked players on the main tour. Well today such problems have again been highlighted by Scott MacKenzie who has announced his intention to quit the main tour should he not qualify for the Crucible this year…

The full article can be found in the Paisley Express here, while Scott’s quotes are posted below:

“I’m looking forward to the tournament and I’ve got a reasonable draw but we’ll just need to wait and see what happens. I’ve never played at the Crucible and I’ve never even been to watch so this is my last chance as I’m definitely retiring at the end of the season unless I qualify.

“The only way I’ll keep playing is if I get there as I’m not going to keep trying to qualify for tournaments so this is all or nothing. It doesn’t put any extra pressure on me but I’ve come to the realisation that I can’t just keep doing what I’m doing.

“For a start it’s costing me too much money and this season alone I’ve probably spent five or six thousand pounds in expenses and it gets to the stage where you need to make money.

“At the end of the day it all comes down to money and I put too much time and effort into it not to make any so something’s got to give and unless I make it to the Crucible I’ll call it quits.

“Don’t get me wrong, I really want to get there but win or lose I’ve got to get some closure.”

“Against Anthony Hamilton last year I just never turned up on the day.

“I lost a bad first frame and never recovered but he played well, although I wasn’t at the races. But that won’t be in my thoughts this year.

“My dad’s coming down to give me some support as it’s my last tournament and when he’s there I seem to play better.

“I don’t know why that it is. Maybe I try harder or maybe I know I can’t throw the toys out the pram as I know I’ll get a clout round the ear but it’s always good to have someone there who believes in you.

“My dad still believes I can do it but I’ve kind of given up, although I was in the same position four years ago when I had to win four games to qualify for a tournament at the SECC and I beat James Wattana to get there but only time will tell if I can do it again.”

“I’ll try not to think about it and I’ll approach it the way I would any normal tournament.

“But I imagine if I’m sitting in the chair one frame away from getting beat and knowing it is my last ever tournament, there will be a few things swirling around my head.”

On the future of snooker:

“It’s still the third most popular sport in Britain but there’s a lack of money at the top of the sport so you can imagine what it’s like for the rest of us.

“There are better players than me that are struggling to survive and I don’t know what they can do.

“I’m number 65 in the world yet I’m £5,000 in debt for the year, while if you were 65 in the world in tennis or golf, you would be a millionaire.

“Unfortunately, snooker’s just not on that level just now but even if you were able to earn 20 or 30 grand, you could justify it but when you’re losing money you can’t and that’s the bottom line.

“I think the long term future of the sport is in doubt with the way it’s getting run and, with the credit crunch, nobody is going to want to put money into snooker when they can put it into football or something like that, so these are worrying times.

“I don’t know what the future holds but you could end up with two tours with the top of the tree doing okay and the rest left to fend for themselves.”

Once again this just shows how tough it is for players ranked further down the rankings not only to make a living in the game, but to even just survive as professional players.  Indeed the problem goes further because in the case of some players, the lack of prize money avaailable forces many players to work part-time, such as David Gilbert (on his dad’s potato farm), or Martin Gould who works as a casino croupier. This in turn can only limit the amount of practice that they can put in to improve their game and mean that it is harder for them to increase both their ranking and their income from snooker.

It is easy to see the reductions in prize money at the very top of the game and rightly be concerned that the financial rewards are not quite what they used to be, but it is these players further down the rankings who are really suffering. With no prize money available for those who do not reach the third qualifying round I can only imagine that it is not just MacKenzie who has stopped to consider his future.

It is not a new problem, indeed Paul Wykes highlighted it when he retired a couple of years ago and as David Hendon says, it is one that is probably going to get worse still before it gets better…