February 23, 2010

The World According to Bazza

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 12:13 pm

Can the Glory Days return to the Baize?

The World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn has been giving his thoughts on the future of the game in the paper today. As always our man Bazza always gives good copy and if only for the quotes he gives is always an entertaining read.

In the interview he gives a bit away about what his plans are and interestingly at the end sets a deadline which falls before this years Crucible shootout for the players to come on board. Saying that if they don’t agree with what he puts in place he’s happy to leave them to it. A risky strategy but one has to ask, what other choices does snooker have but to jump on board the good ship Bazza?

Some gems from the 62 year old start off the piece:

“Darts is working-class golf”

“At my age I don’t stand for office, I get invited”.

“I don’t have people fighting against me, I find they give up very easily.”

Classic stuff from the man who once described a World Title Fight as ‘Big Time Charlie Potatoes’. 

Barry clearly still feels a close affinity and affection toward the game that made him his first fortune and continues “I don’t think snooker’s dead. I described it the other day as a bit like Sleeping Beauty and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’m the handsome prince. But, it’s in my genes. I remember the fun we had with it. I look back and we were laughing all the time. It was the good times. And I can’t see why they can’t come back.”

But is he just suffering from that old affliction of nostalgia?

“People say there are no characters left,” he says. “That’s not true, they’re there, but we don’t know enough about them. Mind, I admit I’m a bit out of the loop myself. I went into the players’ room at a tournament recently and I says to first person I meet: ‘Who’s son are you then?’ And it only turns out he’s number 11 in the world.” (He obviously didn’t recognise young Mark Allen since he removed the ketchup from his head).

So what are the big plans? How can he revive the sport that so many feel has had it’s day? Is it as simple as introducing gimmicks such as the walk on music at the Masters?

“Listen, I know we got some criticism for that but when Mark King dances a little jig to his walk-on music and says that was fun, that’s what you want to hear. The best example here is Twenty20 cricket. The purists were so wrong about that, it’s been a massive success”.

He then gives some hint of his ideas:

“The trouble with snooker is that all tournaments look the same, there’s no variation. You’ve got to be brave enough to experiment. Maybe I’m not brave enough to change the World Championship, I’ll leave that well alone. But further down the pecking order, maybe we’ll have a one-frame shoot out, in out, bish bash bosh. Maybe it will attract a new market. Maybe it will be a disaster. I have had plenty of disasters in my time. The secret of my success is keeping quiet about them. The point is, what I’m promising is we’ll have a go.”   

Even tyrants have a soft side.

“We don’t live in the world of committee at Matchroom. The players wanted me to stand for election against Rodney Walker, I said I don’t stand. My name’s not David Cameron. Democracy is all very well, but I’m not in the democracy business. I learned the greatest business rule of all from snooker. I walked away from it thinking I can’t be bothered with all the in-fighting. From that moment on, I learned if I do anything, I control it. It’s total control or nothing”.

I remember I used to have a boss like that, hated him.

But snooker’s answer to Mussolini goes on in typically reserved fashion “I know there is no one else in the world can do what I can do. That sounds terribly big-headed. But this is my strength. And before you say it, I don’t like the term dictator. I prefer the term benevolent despot.”

Which by my reckoning means he regards himself as something of a kind and generous oppressor or tyrant. Ermm, ok Baz. 

But true to his word is something he always is and our man has given the players who make up the membership of the WPBSA an ultimatum.

“March 31 is my personal deadline,” he says. “By then I won’t have all the answers, but I’ll have a game plan to present to the players. New ideas, new tournaments, a continuation of my control. They have to make decision on that. If they say yes I will deliver. If they say no, I’m exiting stage left and wishing them God speed”.

While Barry might not be everyone’s cup of tea, you do feel that the players have very little choice but to trust him, at least for the time being.

But just remember, the Romford Rap was his idea.

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