Time for Change

A couple of days on I am still feeling the after effects of not getting home until such a late time following the final and I expect that I will not be the only one. It would not have been such a late time however but for the crazy scheduling that has not for the first time ensured that the final finished long after many fans had gone to bed…

Right until the final interval of the match, few fans around the venue could agree on who would be the winner of the 2010 World Championship but one thing that we were unanimous on is that the schedule which saw Monday’s sessions start at 3:00pm and 8:00pm as has been the case for many years now makes sense for nobody.

Indeed with the players requiring some sort of break prior to the final session and the third session not getting underway until around 3:20pm due to the BBC television coverage, it was always going to be unrealistic to expect the players to be able to complete the scheduled eight frames, particularly when taking into account the nerves and what was at stake.

As well as being a disadvantage to the players, thought should also be given to fans who had just bought tickets for the afternoon session and so paid £42.00 to be admitted. Although it was still quite an intriguing session, it is certainly arguable as to whether they received value for money.

With two frames not being able to be played though and the frames generally taking about half an hour each, a late finish was inevitable and even if Robertson had been able to win the first six frames, it was hard to see the match concluding before midnight.

For the players the effects were obvious. Being close to Graeme Dott’s chair for both sessions his fatigue was all too apparent, indeed he look absolutely shattered, particularly from around 15-13. This inevitably contributed to a noticeable drop in standard as the final became increasingly scrappy before Neil managed to pull himself over the line.

The fans too had it tough however, firstly the spectators, some of whom may have been relying on trains or the last tram for example whilst others were children with school to be ready for the next day. Those at home too will have been affected and I can’t imagine that the viewing figures at 1am would have been as high as they might have been had the final concluded at 10pm.

But looking even further afield spare a thought for those fans in mainland Europe who are at least an hour ahead and do not have the luxury of a Bank Holiday Monday! For those it would have been impossible to have stayed the duration and if snooker is to expand overseas, their interests should be taken into consideration.

So what is the solution? Some people have suggested shortening the final, or perhaps the semi-finals to allow the tournament to be concluded at an earlier time. Personally I would not support this view however as I feel that the longer matches are the most interesting and that for the final of a World Championship, a best of 35 frame climax is appropriate.

The simple solution would surely be therefore to move the start times back, indeed the person who I sat with for the final day told me that he had found some old tickets recently from 1980 with start times of 12pm and 5pm on, surely more sensible times than those currently used. Personally I am not even sure that this would be necessary though, even 1pm and 7pm starts would be a major improvement as that should allow for the completion of the full eight frames in the afternoon before allowing a reasonable time to complete those remaining.

Either way though, this issue is not a new one, it was the same in 2006 and 2007 and will be the same again in the future unless something is done…