Snookerbacker

November 10, 2013

Amateurs in PTC’s: Fair Game?

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:37 pm

I say, here’s laughs. Let’s raise a glass to the fucking plebs at the back of the plane funding our trip!! Tally Ho!! Keep the glasses topped up Blondie, there’s a good girl.

In the words of the one and only Morrissey, whose autobiography is a thing of great beauty by the way, I started something I couldn’t finish……

After a chat on Twitter last night and on the back of a few thoughts I have been having lately, this morning I decided to ask opinions on several matters involving the current state of the amateur game in the UK.

The response to this has been extremely vocal and too difficult and diverse for me to put into any logical order, some saying that the opportunities being afforded to amateur players these days are incredible and others going so far as to say that Barry Hearn has killed the amateur game in snooker’s heartland.

The whole thing started because with the help of a faithful follower I pointed out that this season alone so far, the amateur players have contributed almost £50,000 in entry fees to the World Snooker coffers through PTC’s. Contrast this with the fact that just eight, yes that is 8, of the hundreds, yes that is 100’s (x about 5 I reckon with multiple entries) of entrants have actually won anything (around £4800 in total between them) and the fact that they are expected to play without a referee, or roaming referee for that matter, into the early hours of the morning having paid the same entrance fee as professional players in the same tournament and I wondered, I feel quite logically and fairly if this was quite right.

The age old argument is that whatever the structure, the best players will come through and if an amateur is good enough they will make the step up. This of course is mostly true, but how many are and will be put off by the immense expense that they or their sponsors (if they are one of the lucky ones) are having to fork out in their first season or two for no reward? What if the most promising amateur in the country simply cannot find the funds to put them into these events? What then? Alex Higgins or Jimmy White couldn’t have afforded it if they were starting out now, but times are different of course.

Now, I like to think of myself as something of a champion of UK amateur snooker these days and I do my best to help them out with my own tournament (which will see 16 players sharing a lot more hard cash than the 8 players have won from the PTC’s for a lot less expense). I know a lot of the amateur players that enter PTC’s personally and get to hear their thoughts on a regular basis, some I agree and sympathise with and some I don’t. I also know that snooker players can be predisposed to having a bit of a moan so it’s important to weigh everything up when taking a view.

I have played devil’s advocate today so now it’s time for me to give my own take on a few of the issues that have been raised, so here goes nothing.

The System 

Amateur players are encouraged to enter PTC’s as a viable route to turning professional, but how realistic is this? This year for instance now the 2 year tour card structure has kicked in, it’s virtually certain that no current amateur will turn professional as a result of PTC performances. They would need to finish in the top 8 players on the Order of Merit outside of the top 64 professionals, so, give or take your Stephen Lee’s and Stephen Hendry’s who somehow currently remain on the ranking list they would have to perform better than around 54 existing main tour professionals to get a pro-ticket, which is fair enough if you don’t take into account that existing professionals enter in Round 1, while amateur players need to qualify to get there while paying the same fee to enter. Only 8 amateurs have made it past Round 1 so far all season in any event.

Add to this the carrot dangler that is Q-School. It is this Order of Merit that determines who fills unfilled spots in professional events next season. It’s not the PTC Order of Merit for which these guys are paying a princely sum to enter and travel all over Europe. For instance, Ant Parsons, a SB Classic regular plays Ding on BBC TV live in the UK Championship on primetime TV by virtue of his performance at Q-School. But Q-School is a further £1000 to enter, not easy to come by unless you have a very generous sponsor or you happen to win or finish runner-up in the SB Classic (or make a maximum which would also net you the grand you need) or win a Q-School satellite event place. So having made all that dosh from the amateurs in the PTC’s, World Snooker can also look forward to swelling the coffers again from Q-School entries, which will also of course include a number of the current main tour professionals who drop off the tour this season.

I wonder how many of the amateur players have actually sat down and thought about all this? Of course, they have the Amateur Cup running in tandem, which offers 3 of the hundreds of entrants a main tour place, but is this enough to justify the amount they are spending entering these events? I don’t know.

As one direct messenger, a former professional who shall remain nameless put it….’My point is that Mr Hearn makes these PTC’s look like gold plated comps for the amateur players but it’s bullshit.. just bleeding their pockets’. Needless to say he doesn’t choose to enter them.

Of course against this is aspiration. There is nothing wrong with setting your sights high and if you can finance it then why not? Some amateurs have made it onto a TV table to play a top name through the PTC’s and this is something that I am sure those who have will cherish. Luke Garland got to play Ronnie O’Sullivan on the live stream this weekend in front of a packed crowd and even took a frame off him, who’s to say how much money an experience like that is worth in life?

Good players don't worry about conditions.

Good players don’t worry about conditions.

The Conditions

The fact that the amateur players were playing until 5am in this event and matches were not refereed is questionable. The planning was wrong, World Snooker did not put enough tables in the venue and did not provide referees when they should have done both. Penny-pinching again?

One player stated that amateurs are treated ‘like scumbags’ another likened amateurs to ‘cattle/sponsors of events’ and another said he was sick of being treated as an inferior in a tournament where he’d paid the same to enter as everyone else.

As for amateur players moaning about conditions in terms of the venue or the table, this is something that doesn’t really wash with me and is becoming a worryingly common trend in the amateur game, as if mimicking professionals who are usually equally pathetic in doing so.

Amateur players are treated to superb conditions at the SWSA and at other venues (what some amateurs deem ‘unplayable’ or dare I say it ‘clubs’, get real guys, there are people starving in the world). Top players learn their craft in all type of situation, one thing great champions have in common is their general reluctance to moan about tables etc. instead getting their heads down and winning.

The Old System

Lots of responses called for the return of an amateur tour (PIOS), a circuit consisting of eight events where eight tour cards are up for grabs. I’d happily take this on from a promotional aspect as I am sure would a few people, but it’s highly unlikely to happen. Why would World Snooker give away the income coming in from amateurs from their own events to give to someone else? It makes no commercial sense and one thing Barry Hearn, who as Peter Ebdon rightly pointed out at the time of his anointment now ‘owns snooker’, is very good at is that side of things. Whilst I agree that this would be fairer and less expensive way to do things it’s not going to happen while amateurs happily part with the entry fees at the existing World Snooker events. Bazza’s fine with that.

Conclusions

I believe that the conditions and by that I mean the scheduling and lack of officials experienced this week by amateur players paying £100 to enter is indefensible from a professional governing body and to me is the first sign that they do indeed consider amateur players as second class citizens who are expected to pay the same as everyone else. Would people in First Class be expecting the same service on a long-haul flight as those in Economy Class? No, they pay more for the privilege of being treated differently and so it should be in these events. Either make the amateurs pay less than the pro’s and put up with it or make the experience the same for everyone.

I can provide fairly paid referees for all my events on a fraction of the entrance fees that World Snooker are raking in from these events but before anyone picks me up on that I am well aware of how big corporations fund things. To provide referees doesn’t cost the earth and I believe this would improve relations, which it’s fairly obvious are becoming strained and I’m not entirely convinced that the governing body care very much, which in itself is concerning.

My other point would be to the amateur players themselves and this is partly borne out of my own frustration but it’s honest. I have had quite a few players that want to enter my tournament this season but have been unable to find or delve down the back of the sofa for the £50 entrance fee when asked for it, instead choosing to play in every PTC/ET event, some, in my view bizarrely being sponsored to go down this route (what are the sponsors thinking?). This I believe shows a lack of planning and understanding that their best route into the professional game this season and next season and for the foreseeable future is Q-School and not the PTC’s or Amateur Cup. If they can’t afford £50 to play in a contest that is amateur only which gives them 3 opportunities to get their Q-School paid for them, how are they going to scrape together £1000 by March? If you can afford to enter everything, of course you should and the experiences of those that have been on TV playing professional players bears that out, but if you can’t you need to plan how you are going to pay for Q-School as that is where all but a handful of you will end up.

You can join this discussion either by posting a comment here or by joining this Facebook thread, which I am sure, as Facebook threads do, will remain very civil and level headed. Yeah right… a certain Mr Holt, never short of a few words, is particularly vocal on this issue.

CLICK HERE FOR THE SNOOKERBACKER CLASSIC PLACES STILL LEFT THIS SIDE OF CHRISTMAS. £50 TO ENTER, BEST OF 7 AT THE CAPITAL VENUE IN GLOUCESTER. AMATEURS ONLY. £6000 PLUS WORTH OF PRIZE MONEY. WIN 7 CONSECUTIVE MATCHES TO GET Q-SCHOOL ENTRY PAID. CLICK HERE FOR MORE DETAILS.  

Kay Suzanne Memorial Cup Finals Day

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:42 am

It’s Finals Day at the Capital Venue and the usual mix of big names and lower ranked professionals make up the final 16.

In terms of the outright betting we have drawn a blank, match betting has been hit and miss too and but for one decider going the wrong way on Day 1 we’d have been in profit but as it is we’re relying really on a small hopeful bet this morning to turn the event into a profitable one so here goes.

Recommended Bet: 1 point acca on Judd Trump (-1.5), Chris Wakelin (+1.5), David Morris and Joel Walker (+2.5) pays ove 12.5/1 at Apollobet

10am
Last 16

Anthony Hamilton v Judd Trump
Chris Wakelin v Michael Holt
Michael Wasley v Jamie Jones
Ian Burns v David Morris
Sam Baird v Ali Carter
Barry Pinches v Graeme Dott
Mark Allen v Joel Walker
Kurt Maflin v Neil Robertson

1pm
Quarter Finals

Anthony Hamilton/Judd Trump v Chris Wakelin/Michael Holt
Michael Wasley/Jamie Jones v Ian Burns/David Morris
Sam Baird/Ali Carter v Barry Pinches/Graeme Dott
Mark Allen/Joel Walker v Kurt Maflin/Neil Robertson

4pm
Semi Finals

8pm
Final

You can book tickets to go and watch at the audience friendly Capital Venue by clicking here

Results so far and updated scores can be viewed by clicking here

To enter the Snookerbacker Classic in Gloucester on the 8th December click here and follow the link to pay entry fees. FEES ARE NOW DUE.

You can check out Apollobet’s outright market here and their match betting here which is very extensive and includes handicap betting on each game. Click the banner below to open an account there.

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