Mount Defends Position

As regular snooker followers may be aware, following the recent UKPTC1 event, a letter was sent to the WPBSA by the Snooker Players Association, which was subsequently made public on other websites, concerning complaints raised by the players in connection with the event. Today, South West Snooker Academy owner Paul Mount has issued a response to the letter, which you can find in full below.

Rather than attempt to analyse the situation myself, you can Dave Hendon’s thoughts over at Snooker Scene Blog, which are much the same as my own, by clicking here

Paul Mount’s statement:

After a very arduous week, preparing and running PTC1,(average of 16 hour per day) for myself and each member of permanent and temporary SWSA staff I have been asked to respond publicly to several complaints about UKPTC1.

In the interest of openness, I would like to explain my position and more importantly the position of the SWSA.

Before discussing details I would like to point out that the SWSA is a limited company, limited by Guarantee. This means that the Directors guarantee that all profits go to designated charities of our choice and not to shareholders.

Since the SWSA opened it has cost in excess of £120,000 per year to keep operating, all of which has been covered by myself and my profit making companies. I have never taken a wage from SWSA or any other of the snooker companies I own. Call this naivety or, as I prefer, a benevolent attempt to help develop snooker from grass root level and upwards. Either way it seems to be insufficient for some people.

It is my target to develop the SWSA so that it can operate profitably or at least break even. To do this it needs to be run as a business and operate within the boundaries of any contract it enters in to.

I, on behalf of the SWSA, entered into a contract with World Snooker Ltd to provide a venue for all four UK PTC’s.

I was and remain happy with the contract I negotiated directly with Barry Hearn and have not complained about its contents to WSL or any other persons. It enables us to provide a first class venue and facilities whilst at the same time the scope to carry on normal business activities to cover our costs for the five day period of the event.

I had an amicable meeting with Les Barton, Director of SPA, at UKPTC1 to discuss complaints the SPA wanted to make to me on behalf of their members. I did talk with Les, as a bone fide representative of the players, about some aspects of our contract with WSL but I will not go into detail in public as this is confidential information between WSL and SWSA. Suffice to say I did explain our overall costs and why we charged for table time and coffee to help pay for those costs.

It is worth pointing out that if I did not charge for table time the cloths on the practice tables would undoubtedly need replacing shortly after the event to maintain the standard of playing surface we strive for and the likely cost for that would be in the region of £700. Should the SWSA reasonably be asked to cover that entire cost and the costs of refreshments for all the players?

As far as catering is concerned we offered a variety of food including ploughman’s lunch, soup & Roll, pies, pasties, a variety of sandwiches, toasties, cold bar snacks and plain Toast. With the available space we have, and our focus on providing the best playing and spectator venue we can, there is no space for advanced catering but there are a range of pubs and restaurants within 1-2 miles that cater for all tastes. Leaving the venue for a hot meal may also prevent boredom, which is an alternative to practice for those players unwilling to pay £4.

The reason that no practice was available on Friday and Saturday was because the practice room, which WSL did not require as part of the PTC agreement, had been subsequently hired by World Snooker to make promotional photo shoots of the players.

Another misconception is that SWSA based players have an advantage. Let’s be clear; all match tables were covered on Monday and they were out of action to everyone until they were used in the PTC on Wednesday evening. In effect SWSA players had to share our remaining two available practice table with everyone else who booked tables for practice. In reality this meant they had no sustainable practice all week.

We do not allow food and or other refreshments to be brought into SWSA for two reasons. Firstly it will affect our chance of covering our operating costs and secondly we are left with disposing of a large amount of waste and cleaning up the mess.

A closing observation – Since the PTC we have held a full summer school and have just started the European Open Under 18s junior championships which includes 72 players from all over the globe including Russia, Hong Kong, Malta, Belgium, Israel and Germany.

All of these players and their families have paid to travel to Gloucester and stay in Hotels with the hope of winning a major trophy and a modest financial prize. I wonder if I should be surprised that not one of them has complained about paying for refreshments or using the tables.