Chairman Hearn?

Some very interesting news over at Snooker Scene Blog today as Dave Hendon has exclusively revealed that Matchroom Sport’s Barry Hearn is prepared to become the new chairman of the WPBSA – IF Rodney Walker is voted out of power at next month’s AGM…

For the story in full, including quotes directly from Barry, please click here.

For those of you not so familiar with Barry Hearn, when it comes to sports promotion and entrepreneurship there are few better than him. Over the years via Matchroom Sport he has been heavily involved in snooker (famously with Steve Davis and the rest of the Matchroom Mob in the 1980’s), as well as darts, boxing, poker, pool, bowls, ten-pin bowling and even football, having personally taken over Leyton Orient in 1995. You only have to look at how well run the PDC Darts events are, as well as the Prizefighter boxing events to see that Barry makes things work.

In recent years though he has maintained a presence in snooker via the Matchroom Premier/Championship Leagues, for various reasons (too long to set out here), his involvement has not been at the same level as it was during the 1980’s.

Now however this could now potentially change, if the players are prepared to take the step of voting against Sir Rodney Walker at the next scheduled AGM.

But will this happen? In the past there has been a certain amount of apathy when it comes to the voting at such meetings. For example last year just 23 of around 75 players eligible actually bothered to vote!

Things have moved on since then however and with just six-ranking events on the circuit, there are signs of increasing player unrest at the situation, none bigger than the formation of the Snooker Player’s Association which has attracted the support of dozens of players including John Higgins and Steve Davis. Added to Ronnie O’Sullivan’s controversial comments at the Masters earlier this year, perhaps players will be more inclined to use their vote this time around, one way or the other.

If Hearn were to take charge, would this be a good thing for the sport?

Looking at how Barry’s other sporting events have flourished over the years, as well as how well the Premier League has done, he would certainly have a good case for saying that he would be able to inject new life into the ranking event circuit and help to take the game forward.

I would be slightly cautious from the point of view that I would not like to see the game radically altered, or the introduction of a shot clock for a ranking event tournament for example and I could imagine a Hearn-run tour looking to go down this route. That said, this would be better than the game struggling as it is at the moment with just six ranking events and might be the breath of fresh air that the sport needs.

Interesting times ahead…


Note this comment by Dave on the comments section of his article:

“However, the basic flaw in this whole plan is very simple: Hearn has said he would be happy to become chairman if Walker is defeated.

But for that to happen, he would have to be co-opted onto the board…by the current board members.

Even if the players overwhelmingly want this it doesn’t mean it will actually happen.”

Not so promising…