Discontent as Age Limit Raised for World Seniors

Well this is an interesting one. I understand from a number of players that the decision has been taken this season to raise the age limit for the World Seniors Championship from 40 to 45, excluding players such as Stephen Hendry, Peter Ebdon and Ken Doherty who would otherwise have been eligible. Is this fair?

At first glance this may not appear to be a massive issue, after all the World Seniors Championship is not a ranking event and to many might appear to be little more than an exhibition tournament.

On closer inspection however that is clearly not the case as with a top prize of £20,000 on offer last season, as confirmed over at Snooker Scene Blog last November, the action was generally hard fought and you can see from the video above just how seriously the players were taking it. Add to that the fact that Jimmy White earned a spot in this year’s Premier League courtesy of his victory in this event and the tournament suddenly takes greater significance.

So why has the minimum age been raised to 45? Word has it that broadcasters SkySports wished to present a different event with less focus on the current players and more on those of yesteryear. Rumour has it that names such as Ray Reardon, Doug Mountjoy and Kirk Stevens will be involved this year which will certainly excite some of the older viewers who will remember them from their heyday.

Rumoured to be playing – Ray Reardon

Looking back at the line-up last season, the pre-qualifying tournament saw the likes of Joe Swail, Peter Lines and Dave Harold participate who will no longer be eligible while from the main draw former world champions Peter Ebdon and Ken Doherty will no longer qualify.

Is it right that these players should be excluded?

Taking the yes argument first of all, looking back at some of the comments on Snooker Scene Blog from last year it is evident that there are fans who would rather not see players who are still competing in the upper echelons of the professional game involved in the seniors competition. The nostalgia of seeing those from the 1970’s and 1980’s take to the table is something of a novelty and it is understandable that people do not want to see those players embarrassed by younger players close to the top of their game.

On the other hand however, while nostalgia is an important part of the event, will the older players now be able to play to a good enough standard to be able to sustain interest from the viewers watching on SkySports while tucking into their Christmas dinners? Reardon for example is 78 now while contemporaries such as Doug Mountjoy are now also in their late 60’s and have long since departed the competitive stage.

No longer eligible – Ken Doherty

In an exhibition this is far less of a problem as such events are all about fun and the success of the Snooker Legends tour during the past couple of years demonstrates the interest that there still is in seeing the older faces at a snooker table. Whether or not there are big breaks the chances are that everyone there will enjoy themselves.

Nostalgia alone however will only carry the event for so long and in a competitive, televised tournament with a £20,000 top prize the likes of Doherty and Ebdon are arguably a welcome addition to the event. In future years more and more players are going to be affected as the likes of Alan McManus, Mark Davis, Marcus Campbell, Dominic Dale and so on turn 40 who from a competitive viewpoint would certainly supplement what was last season a relatively small field.

Another case for the inclusion of the 40-44 year-old players is that certainly for as long as I can remember following snooker, the cut-off for seniors events of any description has always been 40. I am open to correction on this but to my knowledge the international events such as the IBSF and EBSA Masters events are open to the over-40’s and to set a new precedent in this way is a potentially big decision. Will other events follow suit?

The most obvious argument from the players excluded however is a financial one. As highlighted during my recent article here at PSB, the current crop of players have supported the change brought about over the last 18 months such as the PTC tour and signing a contract to the effect that they cannot play a televised match without it first being sanctioned by World Snooker, inevitably reducing their income potential. Some are therefore unhappy that this tournament will be to the financial benefit of more players who are not on the main tour and who are not now contributing to the World Snooker kitty as the professionals are by virtue of the 2.5% World Snooker levy on prize money currently in operation, rather than to those who are.

Would have been eligible next season – Marcus Campbell

All in all then there is quite a debate to be had with a number of factors to be taken account.

What do I think? Personally I can see both angles to this one as on the one hand it is good to see the older players back in the limelight again and no doubt people will tune in to see them at least initially, but on the other I can also readily see why those recently turned 40 are frustrated at not being able to play when the criteria has always been 40 in the past. Indeed it seems strange to penalise them for in effect still playing to a high standard.

Ultimately though as with all snooker issues I tend to look at it from my position as a fan and as a viewer first and foremost and from that point of view I would prefer to see the minimum age left at 40. While there are still some very good players out there who are aged 45 or above such as Nigel Bond, Tony Drago, Jimmy White and Steve Davis, I feel that adding the likes of potentially Hendry, Doherty, Ebdon and so on to the tournament would boost both the profile and the viewing figures for the event. I fear that nostalgia could only take the event so far and that to run as a tournament as opposed to an exhibition which is the crucial factor here for me, the stronger the field the better.

But that is just my opinion and I would be interested to hear your views in the comments section below on this one however as I feel that there is some debate to be had here…


  • Witz78

    100% correct decision.

    I felt it was farcial having journeymen players still on tour whod just turned 40 competing against true legends who were maybe around 60 like Taylor and Johnson.

    No offence to Peter Lines, Marcus Campbell, Dave Harolds of this world but the public would rather see the likes of Kirk Stevens, Terry Griffiths and Cliff Thorburn in action at an event like this for nostalgia feel than current players which would give it the feel of a 2nd rate ranker rather than a trip down memory lane. No-ones watching it to see century after century anyway (not that youd get it, with some of these early 40s players anyway)

    Anyway take Hendry for example, he could have played in it lats year but saw himself as too good for it, bet hed happily have played this season though as reality sets in.

  • tmv23

    interesting topic.

    there is a whole generation of players that start at the early 1990s which are no around 40-50 which where a long time protected in the top 64 and now with all the PTC and world open draws, which makes it easier for young players to rise in the world rankings, struggle to stay on the tour. you make take joe swail or mcculloch as typical examples.

    i think it would be rather fair if those are allowed to play a tourney where they have realistic chances to win (which would be pretty much a surprise in any ranking – or even PTC tournament)

    But i also understand the 50+ generation which is in most parts not even on the main tour anymore wants the same for themselves, as it would be pretty unrealistic seeing a Tony Knowles against a Stephen Hendry.

    As a solution I could imagine two seperated tounaments, one with 40+ like the 2010 Senior Championship and one 50+ which could be called “veteran championship” or sth like that.

    but: I’m not Barry Hearn so this will probably not happen ^.^ anyways changing the age until a player is allowed to participate is always annoying for those who closly arent allowed to participate no matter which exact age you pick.

    (p.s. i think this is my first comment so hi all, although you max know me from twitter)

  • edd (aka wild)

    correct decition BUT That basicly means Jimmy White,Steve Davis,Nigel Bond or Dave Harold will win it no offence to the other players but they cant start to compete with the MT Players.

    This should NEVER be a route to playing in the PL and should be for Non Tour over 45s Only.

  • Monique

    I agree with Witz there. I think that the very purpose of this event is to give the opportunity to older legends of the game to compete and put a show for the audience who knew them in their glory days and still love them.
    Putting players like Peter Lines or Marcus Campbell in the mix – no disrespect to them – might actually deter some of the older guys to show up altogether. They are still competing in the MT and would almost certainly be sharper than most of the old legends who might then feel they have not much chances to get to the latter stages. Why then make the trip from Canada for instance?
    If you really want competitive tournaments involving the 40+ only, why not do just what EBSA does. Have “Masters” events in parallel with main events? And Junior events as well BTW.

  • http://www.snookerhq.com David Caulfield

    Completely agree that the age limit should be increased to +45 but completely disagree that players that aren’t “legends” should be excluded. It is the World Seniors not the Legends Tour.

    But the fact that so many Main Tour professionals are in or around the age of 40 – not to mention it will only be four years before the likes of Williams, Higgins and O’Sullivan are eligible – means that it is a no-brainer to increase it to 45.

    There has to be some exclusivity.

  • http://maximumsnooker.com/ Steve K

    Interesting changes…

    I think it will be a good thing with more of the 70’s and 80’s stars competing in it so I wont miss the journeymen from the previous tournament really (apart from Doherty). Even though there wouldnt be much demand from the general public I would like to see a youth event on tv, possibly a world juniors championship for 16-21 year olds?

  • John H

    45 is not high enough to cover everyone up to 80- they should have two parrallel tournaments an over 45’s and an over 60’s -ideally 8 man fields playing best of 3’s in the over 60’s and best of 7’s in the over 45’s- but it should be limited to former top ten players and major pro championship winners- familiar old names will guarantee viewing figures – seniors pot black in 1997 saw an entertaining standard in the matches played.
    making it over 45 instead of over 50 lets John Parrott and Jimmy White in
    so allowing Jimmy to defend his title.

  • matt2745

    Interesting views all, here is another from Neal Foulds on Twitter:

    “I think 45 is a more reasonable age to be called a senior player, so its a good decision IMO.”

  • edd (aka wild)

    Hendry did not enter despite the invite because he dont see himself as a senior so neal has just made his day haha

  • darrus

    I think this decision is correct. Now we have enough opportunities to watch Ebdon, Doherty, Campbell, Ebdon etc. etc. And also World Seniors Championship clearly should be just this – seniors championship. Giving the viewers an opportunity to watch players from the past.
    Also, this new age limit levels the playing field a little.

    I think the question is rather – should active Main Tour players be allowed to participate. One one hand, they will have a noticeable advantage over the likes of Griffiths or Taylor, but on the other hand, it’s hard to imagine seniors event without Davis or White.

    • edd (aka wild)

      Handicap system.

  • Witz78

    Yeh the handicap system for the pro guys is one way of evening things up though when i raised this to Neal Foulds he said he wasnt in favour of a handicap system and now looking at it from a playing point of view myself in the local league, i can see the cons outweigh the pros of it, whether you get a start of deficeit in a frame, so im prob slightly against this now.

    Trying to limit the field to proper legends is not being disrespectful to the current players of questionable status in the game, its just being realistic. Imagine Lines playing someone like Cliff, now Lines would win easy but thats not a real reflection of their overall ability, status, thats just a reflection of their ages and stage of their career there at. Plus general public tuning in who remember the glory days of snooker would be wondering who the hell Lines was for starters.

    And as Monique and others said, the pros in the 40-44 bracket have plenty of opportunities now with multiple new events so they cant complain about not being eligible.

    At the end of the day, these legends from the 70s and 80s made snooker what it is, so they deserve their moment in the spotlight again, plus for me this event is played in a friendly fun environment between old friends. Adding competitive main tour players who need the payday and take it totally serious will spoil the essence of the event for me and most viewers.

    • edd (aka wild)

      i agree so drawing jimmy first match wont give them much chance in any sun more like a rainy day on blackpool beach.

  • Witz78

    the fact is though Jimmy became a pro in 1980 and Davis a few years before so they most definetly are now seniors compared to guys around 40 who became pros in the early 90s and didnt play during snookers glory days of the 80s. Its not their fault that they emerged at a young age compared to most of their then rivals, as well as the face that their other emerging stars of a similar age back then like Knowles, Stevens etc all faded out of the sport by the 90s.

    Perhaps a better criteria rather than age, would be either 45+ and retired or having first been a pro at least 25 years ago, that would mean Hendry would be eligible.

    • edd (aka wild)

      yes its a hard one for example not having Davis at 53 eligable would be a bit crazy.

      even when you talk about retired 45+ you talking Darren Morgan and Mike Hallett who are still playing to a reasnable standard of play.

      so the likes of Cliff Thorburn or Dennis Taylor wouldnt stand much of a chance against them.

  • Nige

    This is fabulous news, especially if my all time favourite Ray Reardon is competing! Others such as Doug Mountjoy will be great to watch and this will allow the nostalgia fans a time they never thought they’d see again. I appreciate the arguments about elderly former players’ playing standards not being high enough but we are talking about a single frame/best of three frame format at most which will not drag on endlessly. Couple with this the potential embarressment factor of being hammered by 41 year old Ebdon being now removed. Finally if players are upset at former players not being amongst the 2.5% prize money contributors try to think of it as a way of appealing to all cross sections of the public – with the game at present there really is something for everyone and this move goes to show it. Players of today owe the likes of Ray Reardon a debt of gratitude for the way they projected snooker through the game’s doldrums, and provided them a chance to make a career out of snooker that they never would have had.

  • anonymous

    Anyone who thinks watching Mountjoy v Reardon will be great needs their head examined,25yrs ago i agree but now when one is almost 80yrs and another almost 70yrs i dont think so .These and all the other players were once great and the game is deeply endebted to them,however this is a World Championship not an exhibition or show.This tournament should be open to all players 40yrs and above just like last year and every national and international senoirs event.Why penalise players because they are still on the main tour and still playing to a decent standard?After all even though Ebdon,Doherty and Bond played last year it was Davis and White who contested the final and they certainly were not playing the nostalgic card.They played like they were back in the 80s and rightly so,it should be competitive,do you think that all the golfers who play on the senoirs golf tour do so for nostalgia???Get real Nige

  • Witz78

    anon 3.07

    the golfers have to be 50+ for their seniors events

    and talking of golf they let past major winners return to play majors when there 30 years past their prime

    these guys have no chance of winning yet are happy to take part for nostalgia, ok wed the one off when Watson nearly won at Turnberry but up until recently wed the likes of Player, Nicklaus and Palmer turning up at majors just to make up the numbers when they were a shadow of their former selves so youve picked the wrong sport to do a comparison to.

  • Dez

    +45 is absolutely the correct decision.

    The players in the 40~44 bracket already have plenty of tournaments on the calendar to earn their living.

    Good news if Ray and Kirk are lined up for this years event. I only wish it was screened on terrestrial TV.

  • Witz78

    Alain Robidoux has said hes playing in the Seniors.

    The full line up and draw will be revealed later tonight during the PL coverage on Sky

    • edd (aka wild)

      aparantly the draw is on prem league coverage tonight acording to @worldsnooker1 on twitter this morning

  • Nige

    Does Mr or Mrs Anonymous (3.07pm) think that people really want to watch Peter Lines v Rod Lawler for example then? – Two players who have just crept over the 40 years old bracket and, no offence to them, are never going to be more than journeymen. Or would people rather watch Reardon v Mountjoy? I know which I would rather watch as part of the event. Of course neither of the latter two will win it, but their presence (as legends of the game) is what will make a difference to an event which has being created clearly to offer something different.

  • Claus

    45 is fair but still borderline young. Doherty and Hendry are deffo NOT seniors. Good examples of senior players would be Davis, Thorburn etc.

    40 is not old at all. This isn’t football.