October 17, 2011

Stevie’s Not Feeling Fine

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 4:01 pm

Stevie has the weight of the world on his shoulders

When my copy of Snooker Scene dropped onto the doormat of Snookerbacker Mansions the other day and was passed to me by our faithful butler Reardon, I retired to the reading room in the East Wing and excitedly flicked through it until on page 30 I found my advert for the Snookerbacker Classic. Once I had finished admiring our handiwork I set about reading the rest of it.

There was one article in particular that caught my eye. The headline simply reads ‘Stephen Lee sued’ so, intrigued, I read on. It turns out that our Stevie has spent quite a bit of time in and out of court for the last six years. In fact, if his was a criminal record rather than one linked to legalities he would probably be given a regular slot on Crimewatch.

To summarise the story, it turns out that Stephen has been successfully sued by Paul Mount’s company, Mount International Ultrasound Services (MIUS). According to Snooker Scene, this relates to Lee breaking a contractual arrangement for wearing the MIUS logo on his waistcoat during the World Open in Glasgow in 2010. The amount of the claim is no small potatoes, at the time the piece was written it was totaling £9,745 with interest accumulating on a daily basis while it remains unpaid.

The article then goes on to list a whole host of other County Court Judgements against Big Stevie, a total of eight seperate claims against Trowbridge’s very own Dick Turpin. One of them has been ‘satisfied’ but the other seven which amount to £51,000 have not. There are no details as to what the other ones are for, but Snooker Scene comes to the conclusion on this occasion that the point needs to be made to all players that they must honour contracts and they should not be treated ‘as worthless pieces of paper’.

So what do we make of this?

Well, as Stephen wasn’t quoted in the piece I decided to take it upon myself to contact him, through his new management company Pockets Promotions and their head honcho and fellow Liverpudlian Adam Quigley. He had this to say:

At the World Open, Stephen asked Paul Mount if he could swap his logo as his game was on the red button and not live on TV and he had a small logo willing to pay him for that match. Rightly or wrongly Stephen swapped the badge. On-Q (Paul Mounts Promotions Company) then terminated his management contract but not his logo agreement.

About a month or so later I met Stephen at my snooker club and after a few meetings  I agreed to set up a new company Pockets Promotions and manage him myself. The UK was coming up and Stephen had drawn John Higgins in the 1st round. So I set about advertising for a logo for him as this was a big match and on TV.

Paul rang me and asked me what I was doing saying that Stephen was under contract to wear his MIUS logo. After listening to Paul and him telling me he had 3 years left to run with this logo, I informed the company that wanted the UK logo that I now could not offer it to them. So for the UK Stephen wore the MIUS logo.

A month later Stephen played and won an invitational event in Mumbai, India where he beat Jimmy White in the final. Stephen did not wear the MUIS logo for this event. This was not a World Snooker event nor on TV.

At the Sky Shootout one of our staff went over to Paul to ask for his logo for Stephen as we had left ours in the hotel to which he replied “He’s not wearing it anymore!” and stormed off. Stephen says he had nothing in writing so we went to the German Masters and wore the MIUS logo against Ali Carter. Over there speaking to a few players, they told me that Stephen had had his MIUS logo contract terminated.

Just smile and sign the bloody thing.

Once back in the UK I rang Paul Mount to see once again what was going on. He explained that yes they had stopped it on the grounds that he did not wear it in India. Stephen was under the impression that his logo was for 6 World Snooker events only and that this was not one of them. I also went on to say to Paul that this seemed unfair as 3 of his own players there in India (White, Evans and Burden) also did not wear his logo for that event and have not been reprimanded, to which his reply was they have different contracts to Stephen. So it was India that his MIUS logo was finished not The World Open as Snooker Scene stated, and wrongly in my opinion.

(Snooker Scene don’t actually say that in the article and merely point out the fact that it was at the World Open that Lee didn’t wear the logo as contracted)

We knew Snooker Scene were going to run with this story as some players had informed Stephen. I found it a little ironic that it came out a few days before we had to walk in to Paul Mount’s SWSA for PTC 7. I have spoken to the Press Complaints Commission and also Clive (Everton). I asked Clive why he had just ran with this story and not asked for Stephen’s side to which his answer was “not enough time…”

To me at least, it appears pretty clear that the whole episode here stems back to Stephen’s decision to wear another logo for his red button match during the World Open. Something that, if he was under contract he should definitely not have done. What has happened subsequently is a little more confusing, though it seems that Paul Mount decided on the basis of this one transgression to terminate Stephen’s management contract, but not the contract to wear his logo. Which makes the version of events from Stephen’s point of view all the stranger if, as he states, Paul refused to give him the logo at the Sky Shootout when he was asked for it.

Either way, it seems that relationships between the two parties for whatever reason have broken down. The courts have sided with MIUS and this leads you to believe that it was pretty clear from a legal point of view that Stephen broke the terms of his contract. As I always say to everyone, don’t sign anything which involves a cash transaction unless you are very clear what it is. Clearly in this case something went very wrong. Whilst it would be wrong to cast judgement on him on the basis of a CCJ list as long as Robert Wadlow’s inside leg measurement, the fact that there is a trail of financial hassles in his past means Stevie does come with some heavy baggage.

At least on the table things are going well for him. He is of course now back in the top 16, a couple of decent runs in the next few events and he might be able to start paying some of the bills off.

To subscribe to Snooker Scene visit their website here. I’ve checked the terms and conditions and they seem kosher.

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