Barry Hearn confirms new plan for big-money Saudi Arabia event

Barry Hearn has told Snooker Chat that the all-new Saudi Arabia Masters will be delayed until next year.

Last December it was announced that the Middle-East country would be hosting a major snooker event for the first time in 2020 with total prize money of £2.5 million.

The Saudi Arabia Masters, which will be a ranking event with a top prize of £500,000 – the same as this year’s World Championship, was due to be held be in October.

But because of the coronavirus pandemic a decision has been made to postpone the event, which will be in place as part of a new ten year deal, until 2021.

World Snooker Tour chairman Hearn told Snooker Chat on Twitter: “Hopefully October 2021. One year delay.”

It was announced that the tournament would follow a new format compared to other ranking events with a structured draw seeing players seeded 65th to 128th compete in the first round.

Barry Hearn

The 32 winners will face those seeded 33-64, after which the top 32 seeds will enter the draw in the third round.

News of the postponement came after World Snooker Tour announced part of the provisional snooker calendar for the 2020/2012 season which is due to start in September.

No sporting events in China until 2021 mean all snooker events scheduled so far will take place in the UK or mainland Europe until the new year, although no exact venues have yet been announced.

The 2020/21 season will begin with the Championship League which will become a full ranking event for all players on the tour.

The Championship League will take place over three legs: the first from September 13-20, the second from September 28 to October 5 and the third from October 23-27.

The second ranking event of the season will be the European Masters to be played from September 21-27.

As usual, three of the Home Nations series tournaments will take place before Christmas – the English Open (October 12-18), Northern Ireland Open (November 16 to 22) and Scottish Open (December 7 to 13).

The quick-fire Shoot Out has new dates and will be held between October 29 and November 1, followed by the Champion of Champions from November 2 to 8.

The first Triple Crown event of the campaign, the UK Championship at the York Barbican, runs from November 24 to December 6. And the first event of the Coral Series, the World Grand Prix, has been brought forward to December 14 to 20.

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