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.