November 15, 2011

Bazza: ‘I am here to reward stars’

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 2:47 pm

Bazza tells it like it is

He’s only at it again. Chairman Bazza has been speaking to the Yorkshire Post and this time he’s been telling them and anyone else within earshot about his long-term plans for snooker, why he wants the players to be happy but will not reward mediocrity and why young snooker players are the luckiest people in the world.  

He starts by outlining his main immediate plan and says “The aim is within 12 months there will be a snooker event on every week of the year somewhere in the world, and I think that’s achievable. Snooker has gone from 6 or 7 tournaments a year to about 30, The players are working flat-out, on a proper tour, similar to golf. It’s a global tour so they are travelling the world.”

He hints that announcements about new events are imminent and continues “We are talking to so many people about new events around the world. Particularly in Asia, there are events which could evolve over the next few weeks – not even months – as we are flavour of the month there.”

He then adds the observation that the whole of China apparently stops working when the snooker is on. Which is quite fortunate as with the current economic climate in Europe it won’t be long until everyone here stops working too, not to watch the snooker of course, just actually stops working. But I suppose with all this free time snooker might benefit.  

He divulges the locations he is considering branching out on the baize and says “At any one time, we probably have a dozen potential venues ranging from India to Scandinavia to North America to Canada. Of those 12 potentials you will probably get 2 or 3.”

He (sort of) addresses the concerns of some of the players about the way things are going and shows that even he has a softer side saying “I want the players to be happy and would like them to travel to all the events, but I understand they have to make choices. If I am going to put on 52 weeks of snooker, clearly they’re not going to play in all of them and that’s their choice. They have families.” Actually, that’s not really addressing their concerns at all is it? But at least he shows he’s aware of them. He’s aware of them, but basically doesn’t give a monkeys. 

That seems the extent to which Baz is prepared to acknowledge that some players aren’t quite getting it and he gets right back on track saying “I always take the view that if I was a youngster starting off in my chosen career, I look at my life and think what did I do. There wasn’t a day I didn’t work, there wasn’t a second when I wasn’t putting in maximum effort. I think youngsters in sport are so lucky to have the opportunity to earn a career doing something they love. In some ways, as you get older, that enthusiasm dies and it’s quite sad.”

He draws on his experiences and relationship with his old pal The Nugget to illustrate his point.

Big Time Charlies

“When I remember one of the greatest players of all time, Steve Davis, he never knew the prize money in any event he played in. That’s what made him a great. He went for the trophy and, by the way, made a fortune as well but that was secondary. His love for the game is what the youngsters have got, and my responsibility is to get the new players to challenge the established stars. To give them the opportunity if they are good enough. If they’re not, I won’t sponsor mediocrity.”

“That’s why I love the golf system, if you don’t make the cut, you don’t get paid. That’s terrific. I am not here to hand out money I am here to reward the stars.”

He then moves fleetingly onto today’s big names, plucking a random name out of mid-air and says “If Ronnie O’Sullivan is a star, he is entitled to get every penny out of the game he can. But I do expect them to do their bit as well, as I think it’s a team effort.”

“I am trying to drag this game screaming into the 21st century and I need help. I’m getting it, and the odd hiccough along the way is nothing compared to the tens of thousands of miles these boys are flying round the world. My driving force is always thinking if I was a youngster picking up a cue on the tour in my first year, what do I want? And the answer is I want to play snooker. I love it and want to entertain people, get better and better. At the back of my mind is if I do, I change my life.”

It’s at this point that Jason Ferguson started the X-Factor style music on a small CD player in the corner of the room, gradually turning the volume up with every sentence uttered by his boss.

“I want them to get rich, but keep that poor mentality. I want them to appreciate the opportunity as opposed to 99.9 per cent of the young generation who are struggling, looking for a job. All sportsmen are the luckiest people alive, and I want them to appreciate it. I want excellence; by playing 30 tournaments a year the standard has gone through the roof.”

He then starts talking about golf again “You can’t expect a professional golfer to produce brilliant golf if he plays once a month, you have to play every day. It’s called going to work, just like every person in this country knows the feeling of getting up in the morning and going to work.”

Bazza then draws breath to talk a bit about himself, hang on, hasn’t he just been doing that? Well anyway, he goes on “People keep telling me to slow down, but I think I am getting faster. I am getting more enthusiastic because I can see the opportunities. I think you appreciate it more as you get older. Sometimes when you are younger, you take things for granted and get complacent. When you are older, and you are closer to God, you don’t take anything for granted. You want to enjoy every second, of every day. I have been like that for 63 years.”

You would be forgiven for thinking that our Baz, with all his riches would be completely happy with his lot, but even he has a niggling frustration and says “I think the only frustration I have had in my life, while I have a huge amount of enthusiasm for sport, is that I have never been particularly good at anything other than perhaps making money. That’s okay,” he accepts. “I look upon the business side of sport as an extension of the sport, that’s my game. I don’t win medals, cups and trophies, but what I do is deliver a set of accounts where everyone goes ‘wow’. That’s how I judge my performance, but it comes at a price. I’m boring really. It’s getting worse – 24 hours a day – I have no other interests. I don’t watch X-Factor or Coronation Street. I eat, drink, sleep, walk, talk my business.”

You gotta love Saint Bazza.

Read the full Yorkshire Post article here.

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