New World Grand Prix event to be screened on ITV4

Barry HearnWORLD Snooker chairman Barry Hearn has announced a new invitational event, featuring 32 of the world’s top stars, will be staged for the first time next season.

The World Grand Prix will be held from March 16 next year and will be screened on ITV 4 comprising the top 32 players from a one year money list starting in effect from the current World Championship.

A venue for the week-long competition has yet to be announced. The winner of the event will win a cash prize of £100,000.

The tournament will carry the same name as the former ranking event which ran from 1984 to 2000 and again between 2004 and 2009 before it was given the new title of the World Open – recently won by Shaun Murphy in China.

But despite a similar name, Hearn insisted the event would not be a ranking event and would be completely different to past Grand Prix events.

Hearn said: “It’s a name from the past but a different type of tournament. This will take place from March 16-22 – every ball will be televised live by ITV. We’re just working on the venue at the moment.

“It will be the top 32 players on a one-year ranking system from the beginning of this year’s World Championship. So a few players will be rubbing their hands together because they’ve made a rather good start to getting in the top 32.

“The Grand Prix will not be a ranking event. There’s a balance in this. We’re moving closer and closer to flat-128 draws. it gives a disproportionate advantage to those who have already won substantial prize money by being in those events to start with. So to give them an additional reward would be an unfair advantage to them.”

In a further boost to snooker coverage on free-to-air television, Hearn also announced a five-year deal with ITV4 to show the Champion of Champions event.

The channel broadcast the event live for the first time in November from Coventry’s Ricoh Arena which was won by Ronnie O’Sullivan.

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