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You are here > Five Live message boards > Deleted > Players Revolt

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Players Revolt

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Message 1 - posted by welsh_hotspur (U1863980) , Apr 13, 2006

Leading snooker players are in open revolt against their own governing body on the eve of the World Championship.

A row with tournament sponsors, the online casino 888.com, which has cost some players personal sponsorship deals has led to many boycotting the media.

The issue has further upset players already angry at a drop in prize money.

"There will be a players' uprising," Ian Doyle, chairman of management agency 110sport, told BBC Sport. "They are sick to death of the situation."

Doyle's company manages a dozen players competing at Sheffield including world number one Ronnie O'Sullivan, seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry and two other former world champions in Mark Williams and Ken Doherty.


Every sport needs it stars and these guys are being punished mercilessly
110sport chairman Ian Doyle

Hendry and Williams are both set to lose 50,000-plus sponsorship deals with Betfred, and Doherty his deal with Paddy Power.

World snooker rules prevent players from sporting logos from competing companies, and 888.com has signed a deal to be associate sponsors of the Masters, Grand Prix and UK Championship as well as sponsoring the World Championship.

This follows a large reduction in prize money in a season reduced to six ranking tournaments after Embassy was forced to withdraw its backing of the sport due to the ban on tobacco advertising last year.

"We are talking about millions, not thousands," Doyle claimed.

The cut in tournaments has seen many players suffer surprise upsets in the early rounds, complaining of a lack of quality match practice.


The amount of money they are affected by is not as dramatic as some of them might suggest
World Snooker chairman Sir Rodney Walker

"It doesn't seem to have hit home with the powers that be that these are the stars of the game," Doyle said.

"Every sport needs it stars and these guys are being punished mercilessly. That, to me, is an absolute scandal."

Doyle's company is contemplating legal action under European restraint of trade legislation.

"If they choose to go down that route, that is their prerogative," Rodney Walker, chairman of World Snooker, the commercial arm of the game's governing body, told BBC Sport.

"But the rules of World Snooker are absolutely crystal clear. They are only allowed to have one sponsorship patch on their waistcoats.

"For years it has been the practice that if an event was being sponsored by a tobacco company or a brewery, the players would not wear competing logos.


Stevens dubs snooker a 'shambles'

"This is absolutely no different but some of the players are seeking to differentiate between what has gone before and what is happening now."

Walker has already had discussions with two player agents and is due to meet representatives from 110sport next week.

"We are fully aware of the situation and it doesn't affect that many players, nor is the amount of money they are affected by as dramatic as some of them might suggest," he said.

"I am discussing the matter with 888.com and they are aware of the implications of the agreement. It is part of on-going discussions."

Walker inherited what he called a "virtually bankrupt" sport in October 2003, turning round an organisation that made losses of 3m in the previous four years into one which made a profit of 1.2m in his first year.


Sir Rodney has been a great disappointment. He has not changed things one bit
Ian Doyle

He anticipates "another good profit" this year, but admits players unwilling to promote the sport's showpiece tournament is "not ideal".

"It is mainly one group of players that are not not assisting in promoting the event, but thankfully there are plenty more players that are happy to do so.

"Sometimes I am at a loss to understand what the players really want.

"Yes, the prize money has reduced, as indeed the income has fallen dramatically as we have lost sponsorship income from tobacco. But we are going to replace that."


Crucible draw predictor

Walker will announce the schedule for next season in June, when he expects there to be "more tournaments and more prize money".

"The solution to the situation is for the sport to generate more income," he added. "We are beginning to do that and in those circumstances there will be more prize money and these issues will become less relevant.

"Next year more tournaments and more prize money should begin to give the top players the income-earning potential they are seeking."

Doyle nevertheless remains sceptical of Walker's ability to fulfil his promise.

"Sir Rodney has been a great disappointment," he added. "When he took the job he promised a radical overhaul but he has not changed things one bit."
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Message 2 - posted by TheManfromWirral (U2113392) , Apr 13, 2006

The snooker authorities should be doing the deal which is in the best interests of the game, not just in the best interests of the top players. I bet the players would be first to whinge if the prize money was greatly reduced by a small sponsorship bid being accepted so don't think they've got much of a case to complain really.

Most of Doyle's players are rich enough to never have to work again anyway so they hardly need those sponsorship deals. Most big companies with multi-million pound sponsorship deals will want such clauses put into the contact - I very much doubt they would pay anywhere near what they have if they weren't allow to prevent their competitors from advertising on national television on the cheap.

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Message 3 - posted by welsh_hotspur (U1863980) , Apr 13, 2006

I see a break away tour coming.

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Message 4 - posted by SM (U1900149) , Apr 13, 2006

This is not what I want to be hearing. Hopefully what he says is true and there will be more sponsorship next year.

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Message 5 - posted by Hendry the Eighth (U1644866) , Apr 13, 2006

Do you think the big guns will boycot the tournament all together?

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Message 6 - posted by 5 times (U2858271) , Apr 13, 2006

there should be more tournaments, because this season has been a joke, ronnie has been to one final and lost every first round match after that, he could be number 9 in the world provisionally next year, and it doesnt make sense there should be 10-14 tournaments a year like a few years ago

grand prix
german open
masters
irish masters
uk championship
china open
players championship
malta open
welsh open
world championship
asia open

there could be a few tournaments in asia as the sponsership out there is very good, and forget eurosport, the tournaments not on the bbc should be on sky, look how popular the premier league is.
personally i think rodney walker should quit and barry hearn to take over
whos with me

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Message 7 - posted by sickpotter (U2438179) , Apr 13, 2006

I'm curious what these sponsorship contracts entail. IMO, the top players should not be forced into a position where they won't meet their contractual obligations to their sponsors. Just because another company puts up the money for the tournament doesn't mean that all others aren't allowed in. If 888.com sponsored the event with the expectation that only their name/logo would be seen then whomever negotiated the contract screwed up large. Sponsorship contract are legally binding. Am I wrong in thinking the players are open to litigation if they don't follow the sponsorship contract, or are the contracts setup with payouts being done on a per tournament basis? (ie for each tourney the player is in wearing X company logo with players the get X dollars but are free to not wear a sponsors logo anytime they wish with only the financial penalty? )

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Message 8 - posted by elvaago (U2552436) , Apr 13, 2006

I believe the rule is that players cannot wear a patch of a company that is in the same trade as the championship sponsor.

The championship sponser used to be tobacco company, so no player was allowed to wear a second tobacco company patch.

Now, the sponsor is a betting company. So no player is allowed to wear a betting company patch. Just in this case, many players are sponsored by betting companies.

Of course players are unhappy about that. They cannot wear their sponsor's patch so they lose money.

But have they considered that without 888.com, there might not even BE a World Championship this year? Is there any thought put in that?

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Message 9 - posted by TheManfromWirral (U2113392) , Apr 13, 2006

Players contracts with sponsors are bound to have a clause in them about what happens if they are not allow to advertise that company. This is something which is quite common in sports so any decent lawyers drawing up the contracts will have made such this was covered.

I can't see a breakaway tour being set-up, its Doyle rather than the players who are complaining. Its an agents job to get as much money as possible for their players so all he is doing is showing that there are other options so World Snooker need to compromise on giving big prize money to the top players rather than using the sponsorship money elsewhere.

It should be remembered that the gaming site only became a sponsor during the season, and after the ranking events list was compiled. Therefore the guaranteed injection of cash is likely to add more tournaments next season as World Snooker aren't potentially bankrupting themselves as they might have been this season. Bet Doyle isn't whinging next season when these extra tournaments are being played.

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Message 10 - posted by mats_yer_lot (U1649927) , Apr 13, 2006

This is going down exactly the same road that darts went down, soon Barry Hearn and SKY will start sniffing around with 'an offer too good to refuse' and that will be that, break away tour broadcast on SKY, more razzamatazz, more tournaments but unfourtunately disgruntled fans.

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Message 11 - posted by 5 times (U2858271) , Apr 13, 2006

the best tournaments are on sky though, both darts and snooker premier leagues are sell outs
apart from the worlds, there isnt another tournament thats a sell out everytime

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Message 12 - posted by mats_yer_lot (U1649927) , Apr 13, 2006

agreed, but do you want split world championships with two champions, like in darts.

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Message 13 - posted by elvaago (U2552436) , Apr 13, 2006

I would definitely lose a lot of interest if snooker went the darts way and split up. Besides, neither darts world champions are not the official world champion. The official world darts championship is held every 2 years.

Anyway, this just sucks. Like we need more bad news about snooker.

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Message 14 - posted by jaxonthesaxon (U3772507) , Apr 14, 2006

I've got to say it's hard to have much sympathy with either side on this one. Considering the current popularity of the sport (7 million odd watching the world championship final on the BBC)it seems incredible the governing body can only garner the money for 6 events in a season. The players must feel like they're part-time performers at the moment, and it will surely only lead to a deterioration in the standard of play and fewer professionals making it through.

However, both the players and World Snooker must take some responsibility for this in the end. The opportunities to take snooker into the twenty-first century have been there for a while (time restricted shots, single frame matches, a veteran's tour, doubles matches, team tournaments - even ITV's nations cup provided great excitement) but only the Premier League has been brave enough to take one so far, and with great success I may add. Every time we hear these ideas mooted, the tradionalist players cry out that they want to keep true to the game's spirit and that the changes would not work, but this is just a cop-out. Even cricket, a game that could not have a more conservative ruling body, took the plunge with one-dayers and twenty-twenty matches. Yet snooker players only seem brave enough to ditch the bow-tie and add a sponser to the waistcoat to try and make the game more sexy.

And what we're left with is a season full of meaningless, cloned torunaments that offer litttle in terms of excitement or innovation. Snooker needs to shake things up a little to survive - but at the moment it's perpertuating its own demise.

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Message 15 - posted by welsh_hotspur (U1863980) , Apr 14, 2006

Doyle and Hearn should work together, and put it on ITV.

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Message 16 - posted by welsh_hotspur (U1863980) , Apr 14, 2006

I want a break away tour, it would be better IMO.

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Message 17 - posted by bsjfan (U3300985) , Apr 14, 2006

there should be more tournaments, because this season has been a joke, ronnie has been to one final and lost every first round match after that, he could be number 9 in the world provisionally next year, and it doesnt make sense there should be 10-14 tournaments a year like a few years ago

grand prix
german open
masters
irish masters
uk championship
china open
players championship
malta open
welsh open
world championship
asia open

there could be a few tournaments in asia as the sponsership out there is very good, and forget eurosport, the tournaments not on the bbc should be on sky, look how popular the premier league is.
personally i think rodney walker should quit and barry hearn to take over
whos with me

Quoted message from 5 times5 times



Increasing the number of ranking tournaments is essential. I would have thought 10 should be the minimum acceptable. Perhaps some could be introduced at the lower end of the scale. Of course there are more injuries to tennis players to take into consideration, and the problem in tennis is that there are now too many ranking tournaments, but their rankings would soon become meaningless, if only the Grand Slam events were used for ranking points.

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Message 18 - posted by Sophisticated and Coarse (U724007) , Apr 14, 2006

There must be more tournaments next season. If Walker cannot realise that promise, he should go. A credible sport does not have just six ranking tournaments per season. The tour should be increased as well in terms of numbers, so we don't lose players like Atthasit Mahitti of Thailand from the game. 124 should be the minimum on the main tour. A breakaway tour is not acceptable, and I think the players would be shooting themselves in the foot if they did that.

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Message 19 - posted by MarkJWilliamsFan (U3734728) , Apr 14, 2006

I personally would hate to see a breakaway tour, especially if it was shown on Sky Sports (which I can't afford.)

Taking the example of darts, with their world champion situation, I'd hate to see snooker in the same situation. People laugh at darts and discard it because of the problems, I really hope snooker doesn't come to that.

About the money-loss to the 'big' players, I think they earn enough money, but then again players such as Williams (my favourite so you can't accuse me of bias!!) are completely money driven and unashamedly so. We need to hope this problem doesn't start affecting the lower ranked players, who must find it harder to find sponsorship at all. It might already be the case that it does affect them, I don't really know.

As for the number of tournaments, I think there are far too few as well. It seems now that there's only a few tournaments and then the seasons gone. Snooker is a popular sport: there must be ways to make more money and thus enhance the lives of the professional players without upsetting the fans.

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Message 20 - posted by dannyd0g (U2038488) , Apr 14, 2006

And what we're left with is a season full of meaningless, cloned torunaments that offer litttle in terms of excitement

Quoted message from jaxonthesaxon




Some very good ponts there. However I dont agree with the part above. I think they should leave at least the standard big tournamnets to the tried and tested traditional formtats. If they can afford to add extra tournies they could experiment with those.

The media always seem to hype up any problems, splits or issues whether big or small to make snooker seem in grave trouble. Yes there's things for the palyers to whinge about, just like any proffession, but things arent all doom and gloom.

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