Premier Problem

As the rights and wrongs of the decision to suspend Stephen Lee (as detailed here), are debated, attention turns to the effect that this will have on the Premier League, in which he was scheduled to play his final match next Thursday…

Having lost his three matches in the competition to date, reigning PTC Grand Finals champion Stephen Lee was not a contender to reach the play-off stages of the 2012 Premier League in any event, but his suspension has now left the organisers with a couple of headaches.

The first and most immediate is that of next Thursday’s scheduled meeting in Penzance, where Lee was set to play Mark Allen in the opening match, followed by Neil Robertson taking on Stuart Bingham thereafter.

While there had been a mixture of speculation and wishful thinking on Twitter as to whether someone like Ronnie O’Sullivan could replace Lee and play an exhibition instead, following a tweet by regular League referee Paul Collier, it now appears as though the evening may be called off altogether…

“I believe that Penzance has been cancelled and there will be 3 matches at Guildford. Not sure about tables etc”

Of course there will no doubt be issues with as to how this will affect the television contracts and sponsorship agreements in place, while staging three matches in Guildford would in theory require Stuart Bingham to play twice in one evening, unless there is a further reshuffle of the fixture list between now and the end of the league phase.

The other issue of course is what will now happen as far as the league table is concerned, given the fact that Lee (and therefore Mark Allen), will not be able to complete their four matches.

While it is just guesswork at this stage, to me the most obvious way to proceed would be to remove the results of the three matches from the league table involving Lee, effectively leaving a four-man league stage. Of course the obvious drawback to this would be that it would be hard on Judd Trump and Peter Ebdon if the qualifiers were to be decided on frame difference, as they had both beaten Lee 5-1 earlier in the league.

The only other obvious alternative would be to hand Mark Allen a 6-0 walkover, although again that would provide him with a boost as far as the frames difference is concerned.

How would you resolve the situation?