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.”

  • http://www.twohundredpercent.net/?author=104 Rob Freeman

    As ever a mixture of good and bad:

    * Changing the format to a level playing field is good, as long as the World Championship retains it’s structure. If extended to the Chinese tournaments, it allows Ronnie to drop out, and another player to take his place.

    * Prize money increases – always a good thing if administered correctly. The PTCs need to be worth the players time to take part in. That the PTC rankings will increase is a good sign that the sport is retaining a ranking point system, rather than moving to a money list (which could put players off turning pro, espeically when they realise the world number 60 might only get £10-15 a year in prize money, and have to spend more than that on expenses!

    * European PTC expansion – it’ll be great to have Belgium, Bulgaria and Poland on the calendar – but these have to be the first steps to getting extra fully fledged ranking tournaments – even if this means dropping a Chinese tournament (such as the virtually spectatorless World Open.

    * European Tour nominations – that Luca has been awarded a place on the tour is excellent news, but hasn’t Drago had his day? Unless his presence on the tour is going to be used to try and generate an event in Malta, wouldn’t it be better to award the place on the tour to a younger European, from a growing nation? Michal Zielinski springs to mind, especially if you’re having a Polish PTC.

    Also, is the prize money going to be reinstated at the bottom, even if it is just to cover expenses? It’s one thing to say that you want to expand the game into Europe, but after a two season spell where Patrick EInsle, Robin Hull, Bjorn Haneveer and Kacper Filipiak have all been priced out of the game to varying extents, and only three continental Europeans have entered every tournament, the game has to at the very least cover the players expenses. Even if World Snooker pay flight and hotel expenses and deduct it from the prize money pool(and therefore coming out of the earnings before they are handed out, and therefore taxed), the players will be better off. Cancel the entry fees, and fine players who withdraw for non medicalfamily/emergency reasons. Paying out £7.5 just becomes meaningless rhetoric for press releases if half your professionals aren’t covering their costs through their prize money.

    Will the communication be better next season? It’s bad enough that the communication to the public has been the worst in over a decade – but it appears that the players get the same information at the same time, which is ludicrous, and has only happened since Barry took over. He’s a brilliant promoter, but as an administrator, he leaves a lot to be desired, with so many of the simpler things being missing. The website has regressed – what is with half the information being on PDFs which appear to have been produced on a PC, printed on poor quality paper, then scanned and re-uploaded.

  • http://www.twohundredpercent.net/?author=104 Rob Freeman

    Also, what’s the score with the British Isles amateur places? I know they’ve been taken away, but didn’t the EASB say they’d received confirmation they’d get the place as normal, only to find out when the Tour criteria was eventually published (eight months later than usual?), they’d lost it?

  • urindragon

    Hi Matt! With the money list being in place will it mean that a 147 effectively earns you ranking points? Money is money whatever way you get it. Thanks!

  • http://www.twohundredpercent.net/?author=104 Rob Freeman

    I didn’t see the bit about the money-based Order of Merit earlier

    It’ll slowly kill the sport.

    Why would someone choose snooker and it’s paltry earnings for all but the top players, when they see a money list with players earning so little at the bottom? The European Challenge Tour (the number two tour in European golf, and about the fourth biggest golf tour) has a money-based Order of Merit. The 64th guy on that list last season (Sion E BEBB) earned €26,080. This is around what world number 48 Dave Harold has earned this season. If a kid is showing promise in both, why excel in snooker, when you can earn more being mediocre in golf?

    Over the last two seasons, the BBC seem to have spent so long talking about the change in the rankings, and what the tournaments mean, whereas in the past they only spent five minutes during the final interval. Everybody understood the old system except Barry. Why the need to change it? It wasn’t broken.

  • dannyboy

    I think open comment on isolated areas should be stated with an understanding that Barry Hearn has to work with the whole sport, warts and all. To deliver and improve some areas is progress. You have to start with your strengths and make in roads and improvements where you can. Hearn is a positive for the sport and you have to accept that there was nothing better on the table with a proven track record. I think the sport is going the only way it could in this sporting era. Hearn does it well and he cares. He has a long history with the game and in SD has a role model and friend that can hardly be knocked. I would think snooker is in safe hands given it is 2012 and the world has moved on from the early 80s when we only had 3 channels on the TV and no internet!
    Get behing Hearn and enjoy the game. What a great advert the WC is this fortnight. Luca and ROS and Hendry – different generations all still going at it. Brilliant – a mixture of young and old all potting for fun! COME ON!!

  • Skullman

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

    Is there ever a good time to be an idiot.?

    • matt2745

      That’s what Clive said, and Barry did answer but it was funnier to leave it at that!

  • RobH

    Good to see a ‘flattening out’ of the tournament structure, and attempts to expand the sport into Europe. Still not sure about the move to a money based system. The current system with it’s massive emphasis on winning your initial match needs to change (why, for example, should a player get 900 points for winning his first round qualifying match, against a player ranked 80 in the world, but only 500 points for winning his 4th qualifying round match against a player ranked 20). However a prize money system might bias too far the other way, and will probably lead to a multiple-tier system of tournaments where top players just ignore some tournaments because they don’t offer enough money. Would seem better to keep a ranking points system that is independent of prize money, but reorient it to a more sensible scale. That would allow you to support tournaments that might not be able to offer huge prize money initially.

  • http://www.twohundredpercent.net/?author=104 Rob Freeman

    Hearn has a proven track record in what?

    His PDC darts organisation that split the sport in two?

    His purchase of Leyton Orient, where he’s taken them from a struggling third tier club to being a struggling third tier club in 20 years.

    Matt has just said on Twitter that Barry gave him a list of the top 32 on the money list. I’d like to see a list of the bottom 32, considering that only the last 64 in an tournament get paid nothing. Barry needs to learn the meaning of the word ‘professional’.

    People enter sport as a career, not as a hobby, and if they see that they have to slog it out to enter the ranks, and then see that Stuart Carrington has earned £360 for participating in 20 events, Daniel Wells, Kacper Filipiak, Joe Meara, Lucky Vatnani, Matt Couch all won no money all at in a season, and what are they likely to do? I’ve seen one amateur on twitter this week stated they’ve declined a paid entry into the Q School, because they can’t afford to win.

    Snooker used to be a rich mans game. It should be open to all, not just those who can afford it.

  • Ragnar

    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.

    That is a rather odd statement considering that the tennis tours have a ranking point system, rather than a prize money list.

    I agree with RobH that there are problems with the current ranking points, but a pure money list will make it very difficult for the lower ranked players unless prize money is increased for all professional players.

    • matt2745

      Yeah, as a big tennis fan that wasn’t lost on me either!

    • John F

      You could make the same argument about golf, to an extent. Not so much on the European Tour, but on the more minor circuits like the Asian and South African.

      Some of their events (e.g. Singapore) are co-sanctioned with the European Tour, which for the Asian players makes it one of the biggest pay-days in their season. Let’s say an Asian player wins it, and earns 400,000 euros, but in the same year, another player wins 5 Asian titles, and takes home a total of 300,000 euros. By Hearn’s logic, the player who had his lucky day in Singapore is better than the man who’s been more consistent and won five trophies?

      If he wants a money list, there has to be a German Masters-style prize fund where everybody gets paid prize money, otherwise how embarrassing will it look to see a stack of players at the bottom of the rankings with absolutely nothing? Hearn talks about snooker being a meritocracy, but what’s the point of 128 players on the Tour if you finish up with less than 100 competing by the time we hit China and the Worlds?

      I’d have really enjoyed seeing what Igor Figueiredo could have done over a full season, judging by his Worlds qualifying performance, but he was effectively priced out of competing. All this talk about increased prize money is great, but let’s see a fair portion of it go to the early rounds.

      • Andrew B

        The *world* golf rankings are also a points based system, not a money based one.

        I don’t have any particular objection to a money based ranking system in snooker, but the comparison really doesn’t work that well.

  • Richard

    If it’s a straight copy of the Darts OOM, the 147/high break bonuses wouldn’t be included in the money list, just actual prize money.

    (Hearn didn’t initiate the split in darts, the players, frustrated with the poor running of the sport did about 5/6 years before BH got involved.)

  • zabaks

    About the -Changing the format to a level playing field-
    On Saturday German commentator Rolf Kalbs announced that tickets for German Masters 2013 are on sale now and spoke about new format.
    OK, Nr 33 to 96 will play one match, which will result in 32 winners, who will play top 32 in the rankings. So, all the top players will enter the tournament at last 64 stage.
    Then he went on to describe what will be shown on TV and for which matches the Tempodrome tickets are for. Well, I must admit, despite hanging around here in Vienna for a couple of last years, I still struggle with my German, especially when Herr Kalbs comments on match in progress and explores another issue in the same sentence…
    So, what is it – where that Nr 33 to 96 round will be played – in UK like a regulag Qualifying round? He spoke about ten selected matches being shown on TV – was it about last 64 or for that 1st round between 33rd to 96th ranked?

    • Allineas

      @zabaks: Do you remember during which match/session/frame he talked about this? I haven’t watched that particular session, but being German, I could find the video and understand what he says.

      @topic: While the issues with prize money in general are understandable (And quite obvious, having seen several players not competing in this season for financial reasons. Prize money in the lower rankings is really ridiculous), why is there so much talk about the money list in place of the current points list? It would simply be the same, only with a different point structure, perhaps a bit favouring tournament winners/finalists, which I think is not that unfair.

      Another interesting sentence: “The fact is these invitational events are a thing of the past” – I guess he is not talking about the Masters and Premier League, but what does it mean in respect to events like the Brazilian Masters? Will it disappear or continue as a ranking event?…

  • Alan Moroney

    I can see 2 problems with Prize Money used to determine rankings, one easily dealt with.
    Darts has the ridiculously named “Order of Merit” as its rankings. Nothing wrong with Order of Merits, such as the PTCs, European, etc., but if it is to replace the rankings, it should still be called the World Rankings.

    The main problem is inflation of prize money over the 2 year period making the same event not comparable.

    As regards having larger main draws, I think it is a good think for the majority of events, but there should still be a few events with the current graded feed-in, otherwise the lower ranked players will rarely get to play each other, which makes it hard for accurate rankings. Plus a 128 tournament means that everyone in the lower 64 is praying not to draw one of the top 8 each week.

    • Allineas

      Good point about prize money inflation. Could easily be negated by giving a player ranking points as if he had reached a stage of a tournament one year later (I mean, if a player reaches the QF of a certain event in 2012, his ranking points in the 2012/13 season use the money won by this achievement, and in the 2013/14 season they use the money he would have won for reaching the QF of the same event in 2013) – but though it is that simple, it possibly wouldn’t happen in reality…

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