The Crucible does not have a divine right to stage the World Championship.

Or rather, if it wants to continue staging it then Sheffield’s business community should pay the appropriate price.

I think most snooker fans regard the Crucible as the natural home for the game’s leading event.

Players are divided but it is the one venue where all professionals want to have competed at least once in their careers.

It does have a unique atmosphere created by having fewer than 1,000 spectators sitting so close to the players.

It is the venue where careers have been made and broken, hopes realised and dashed.

Backstage, there is insufficient room for a major sporting event, although this may change with the ongoing renovations.

This is far from ideal but any sport’s shop window is what appears on TV and the Crucible arena makes for compelling viewing.

WPBSA chairman Sir Rodney Walker should not be characterised as some mercenary determined to sell the World Championship down the river to dastardly Chinese promoters.

Far from it. Last time the contract came up for renewal he favoured the Crucible over a bid from Liverpool which was worth more to snooker’s coffers than the Sheffield proposal.

It may be that by making public the approach from China he is sending a message to Sheffield that they will have to pay an increased amount to continue staging the tournament.

It brings around £3m into the local economy each year. A few weeks ago, Sheffield city council passed a motion expressing ‘concern’ that the World Championship may leave the steel city after the loss of 888.com as sponsors.

So Sheffield recognises how important the event is to them. I think Sir Rodney may be marking their cards that they should reflect this in their bid when the contract is renegotiated.

I think the Crucible is still the likely venue for the 2011 World Championship.

But it is up to Sheffield now. If they really want to keep it then they should pull out all the stops to do so.


Anonymous said...

If Sheffield were to lose the World Championship, then the event has to remain in the UK. Call me old fashioned, but I honestly believe that the constituent element is important to ANY sport and it's long term survival.

The UK and Ireland is the home of the sport, and therefore it is only right that the biggest tournament should be staged there.

Sam T

stuartfanning said...

Sponsors have deserted Snooker in the UK, presumeably because they think the British public has lost interest in the Sport. Maybe a move to China for the World Championship is what's needed to test whether we really want the professional game to continue to be staged mainly in the UK.

Anonymous said...

Re lack of interest in the UK

That'll explain why snooker continues to achieve consistently high ratings on BBC-2 and is given extensive airtime in comparison to other sports on free-to-air TV.

Hardly a lack of interest to me.

Sam T

Anonymous said...

I think Sam T needs to properly read the comment by stuartfanning.
Sponsors have deserted snooker and so have much of the British press.Until this situation improves then snooker is open to all offers from other countries.

Anonymous said...

If WPBSA accept this proposal they risk losing the BBC and no amount of Chinese money can make up for the disastorous consequences this would have for the game

Anonymous said...

Fair comment Anon but I still maintain my earlier comments that the WPBSA should respect the tradition of the game - even if, in fairness, they are entitled to consider offers from elsewhere.

For the sake of argument, if we consider golf, could you imagine St Andrews not being on the roster for The Open Championship?

Even though there are next to no up and coming Scottish golfers coming through the ranks, getting rid of St Andrews would be sacrilige and leave the organisers open to derision.

A far fetched hypothetical situation, yes, but I'm just trying to give a comparison.


stuartfanning said...

If Snooker is really still popular among the British population why is finding sponsors for the Wembley Masters and World Championship and other un-sponsored tournaments proving so difficult?

Anonymous said...

It is strange how a chance decision (but an inspired one!) by Mike Watterson over 30 years ago still promotes debate. The Crucible remains an ideal choice because of size of venue and intimacy with spectators- it would be a shame to lose it as it now has so much history attached to it.