Barry Hearn Speaks – Full Details

Another day, another big story as Barry Hearn has addressed the press at the Crucible Theatre in the first of two tournament announcements and confirmed the move towards a ranking system based on prize money, as well as tour nominations for Tony Drago and Luca Brecel for next season. Click below for more…

While Barry spoke at length, the main stories can be broken down as follows:

  • The first step towards players entering tournaments at the same stage will be taken, with format changes to the German Masters and Welsh Open tournaments for 2012/13

“Most of you know my ideology of where I think this game should go and this is something that me and my colleagues have a passion about –  the idea that snooker is an out and out meritocracy, built around ability and opportunity. It’s not built around over-protection of top players. It is built around the principle that players should be treated as justly and fairly as possible and that ability should be the only criteria for success.”

“I do appreciate that because of existing broadcast contracts this will take time for the master plan if you like to come to fruition and that will involve the support of our broadcast partners who under current contracts have a guarantee of top players appearing at a certain stage of the tournament. I feel that this is very backward in today’s world. With a tour membership of 99 players for this year and 128 for next year, we have got to show to the kids out there that when they get a tour card it means something.”

“So this year we are going to start this transition and move towards and out and out level playing surface. And we start with the German Masters and the Welsh Open. Both tournaments this year, first round matches will be last 64 seeds, 33-96 that will play one game, but then play a second game against the top 32 players in the world, taking away the rather onerous task for the lower players of having to play four matches to reach the TV stages.”

If you are a top player, then you should be prepared to prove that you are a top player every time you take to the table. The German Masters and the Welsh Open are just the beginning. Mindful of our BBC contract, we will be looking to bring the UK Championship into a more open mode for the following season.

  • Prize money and ranking points increases for the Welsh Open, German Masters, European PTC events and PTC Finals

“To reflect our desire to make fairer tournaments bigger, we will start increasing prize money in those two events, the German Masters going up to €300,000, with a first prize of €60,000. The Welsh Open will go up to £250,000, a 25% increase, with a first prize cheque of £50,000”

“This is coupled with our desire to see our European PTC events (which I love to death, 128 players straight into the hat, no byes), to encourage people to further understand the value of these tournaments, firstly the events in Europe of which there will be six, will have their prize money increased from €50,000 to €70,000 each event. And for those guys that show the consistency and the desire, the PTC Finals will have its prize money increased from £250,000 to £300,000, with the winner’s cheque for £100,000.”

“We will be increasing prize money again, despite the fact that over the last two years sanctioned event prize money has risen from £3.5m to around £7.5m this year as we continue our journey to a minimum of £10m over the next few years.”

“The biggest prize money increases in future will be held back for those tournaments which are seen to be fairer to the membership as a whole, so look for further significant increases in PTC events and PTC Finals in the years ahead.”

“The PTC Finals will consistently be my number one choice in terms of increasing prize money. The fairest tournament of them all with 12 players going in at each event.”

“Ranking points for those events will also be similarly upgraded.”

  • Confirmation of European PTC event venues

“The PTC events in Europe are becoming more and more significant for us as we establish new footholds in Europe and Scandinavia. I am very happy that Chris Henry is here today as we announce that we have signed a deal for a Belgian PTC event on the new circuit. We will also have two in Germany. We are looking at one in Bulgaria, one in Poland and one other to be announced.”

“The fact is these invitational events are a thing of the past and we need to involve the whole membership wherever possible to give the opportunities to all of our players to achieve the lifestyle which we believe World Snooker can generate.”

  • Two-year European Nominations Awarded to Tony Drago and Luca Brecel

“As part of this overall involvement in European snooker we have two additional professional places on the main tour that had been earmarked for a European Order of Merit, however this system will not come into play until the season we are about to begin.”

“So for this season World Snooker, in association with WPBSA, have allocated those two European slots to the two highest ranked European players non-qualified for tour membership as of today. The two players therefore that will receive a two-year tour card are Tony Drago and Luca Brecel.”

  • The first moves towards a money-based ranking system to begin next season

“As of next year, we are moving forward with an Order of Merit on prize money won, rather than ranking points. This will take two years before it overtakes the points system.”

“As a system, a money-based Order of Merit has two big advantages. One, it is much easier understood by the general public rather than a complicated series of points. Two, under the current system, if a younger player came in and won the World Championship in his first year, he may well not be seeded in the top 32. This is clearly ridiculous where the world champion would have such a low rating. By substituting prize money for points, I believe we show a true reflection that is mirrored in other sports, such as the golf tours and the tennis tours.”

“So starting from the new season, we will run two parallel lists. We will operate under a points system, but we will run in conjunction with that a prize money list.”

  • A warning to players in respect of comments made on Twitter and in post-match interviews

“There has been a lot of publicity about various comments made by players in interviews, both post-match and on Twitter. We have very, very high standards in World Snooker and we are very, very aware of the contribution made by other people to the dramatic success of this sport over the last two years.”

“In particular we are aware of our broadcast contracts, our site venue agreements and our sponsor contracts, our three principle means of income other than spectator tickets.”

“We expect at World Snooker, every player to acknowledge and observe the terms of the player’s contract that each player signs to participate on main tour events.”

“Mark Allen’s comments at the press conference yesterday and Mark Williams’ comments on his Twitter are unacceptable to World Snooker and as such both players will be forwarded to the disciplinary process of World Snooker in an effort to make these players understand that you don’t have a contract unless you want to follow the terms.”

“If you want the benefits of playing then you observe the terms of players contracts and in particular in Mark Williams’ case you have to remember that Twitter is in the public domain and players are responsible for comments they make on Twitter.”

“If these comments look likely to bring the game of snooker into disrepute and to be in breach of the player’s contract, the very sternest disciplinary action will be taken against both players. It is time for players to understand that prize money has more than doubled in the last two years. It comes at a price, it’s called professionalism.”

“Any player that decides to ignore the players contract that he signs to take advantage of professional snooker, means that they are risking their place on the main tour. This is a zero tolerance. The players would be very well advised to listen to these words and we leave the matter now in the hands of the disciplinary authorities of the WPBSA.”


Barry went on to field further questions, largely, indeed exclusively centred around the Mark Allen comments, which I am sure you will be able to read elsewhere. There was a real gem in there though as follows:

“This is a very good time to be a snooker player. It is not a good time to be an idiot.”