TOGB Column – Should Hearn and Co apologise for making snooker popular once again?

TOGB editor Nigel Slater gives his thoughts on the latest events in the snooker world.

Hearn’s Twitter apology – but what does he have to be sorry about?

Last week saw Barry Hearn and Jason Ferguson apologise on Twitter after the website selling tickets for next year’s World Championship temporarily crashed down. The reason for it crashing down was due to the overwhelming demand for tickets.

Though I’m sure this was annoying to many snooker fans looking to get their fix of Crucible action for 2018, was it necessary to say sorry?

Many could argue that the problems encountered were bad but maybe were expected anyway because of snooker’s growth – largely developed under Hearn’s and Ferguson’s leadership of the sport.

But lets look at the bigger picture – Hearn has vastly increased the number of tournaments in the snooker calendar and almost quadrupled prize money to a staggering £12million going into next season.

There is even talk of prize money eventually reaching the £20million mark at some stage in the future. The 2019 world champion will win a cash prize of £500,000, that reality before Hearn talk over would have been one for the comedy books.

So with more tournaments and bigger prizes than ever before, snooker is back in the popular books once again – hence the thousands queuing to get tickets last Monday twelve months in advance of the tournament.

Hearn took to Twitter to apologise to fans for the technical issues which stopped fans buying tickets online for about two hours but I’m sure it was an apology he didn’t mind making.

Speaking to a friend on my way to see a Micky Flanagan comedy show in Manchester last Thursday – he told me: “It never used to be that hard to get Crucible tickets. Sometimes my dad just popped in on the day of action and got tickets there and then.”

I doubt that will be the case again for many years to come.

Clive Everton’s fitting award

As expected,  Mark Selby took most of the glory in the annual World Snooker awards ceremony on Thursday night.

But for me it was great to see snooker journalist and broadcaster Clive Everton inducted into the sport’s Hall of Fame.

There’s not a snooker fan I know that has nothing but high praise to see about Everton’s involvement with snooker. He was missed very much when he no longer worked with the BBC commentary team but it’s great to see him have a new platform on ITV4 whose coverage continues to impress alongside that of Eurosport.

His dedication, eye for detail, knowledge and enthusiasm for the sport can only be an inspiration to the next generation of snooker writers and broadcasters. And I’m sure fellow writers and lovers of the game will echo those words.

Congratulations Clive, it has been fully deserved.

Full marks to Mark Selby – now what can the others do?

As he showed at the Crucible and as far as the world rankings show – Mark Selby is the best there is on the table at the moment.

A brilliant comeback win against John Higgins saw him win a third World Championship title a week ago. It’s hard not to see him win more titles in years to come.

Mark Selby. Picture by Monique Limbos

And not surprisingly bookies already make Selby the favourite to win next year’s World Championship. This, I hope, should make the world’s other top players quite angry.

It will be interesting to see if Selby continues his domination next season or whether others will come to the party.

Players such as Judd Trump and Mark Allen may feel they have something to prove and Neil Robertson says he will go back to being “emotional” on the table once again – which could get him back to winning trophies again.


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