Hearn Threatens To Move World Snooker Championship

(MENAFN- The Peninsula) AFP

Sheffield: Promoter Barry Hearn has threatened to move the World Snooker Championship from its Sheffield home in favour of a rotation of host venues potentially including Saudi Arabia.

The viability of Sheffield's Crucible Theatre to stage the World Championship came into question ahead of the latest edition of the tournament, which started last weekend.

Seven-time champion Ronnie O'Sullivan suggested it should be moved to Saudi Arabia or China in order to maximise profit potential.

Underlining the issues with the ageing venue, Iran's Hossein Vafaei blasted conditions at the Crucible, calling it "smelly" and comparing practice room facilities to playing in a garage after losing in the first round to Judd Trump.

The Crucible's current deal expires in 2027 and Hearn said there should be no room for sentiment over the future of the venue.

Hearn, a former World Snooker chairman and current president of Matchroom Sport, told the BBC: "I am doing absolutely everything I can to stay in Sheffield and it takes two to tango - I'll stay here while we're wanted, and I think we're wanted.

"But they've got to be realistic. We've said for the last few years we need a new venue that seats 2,500 to 3,000 people."

Saudi Arabia's growing interest in the sport has dramatically changed the landscape for discussions, with the first ranking tournament due to be staged in the Gulf State next season.

Hearn would have no qualms about taking the tournament away from the venue which has staged every World Championship since 1977, and even proposed a scenario where it could be moved around the world on a rotational basis.

"Why should the tournament have one home and why isn't the Crucible transported around the world to play one year in Saudi Arabia, one year in Beijing, one year in Sheffield?" he said.

"The Crucible has got a fantastic history and it's been a massive part of my life, but we've got to live in the real world. There's a price for everything, whether we like it or not.

"In any professional sport played by professional sportsmen, the first demand is prize money and they want to see it as big as possible, and we have a duty to those players.

"I believe next year we go through the £20 million prize money, but you must never get complacent in your life and sit down and enjoy the luxury of saying 'job done'. There's never enough. It's all about the money - get used to it."


The Peninsula

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