June 3, 2016

All Change

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:57 am

penWorld Snooker finally revealed their plans for tour qualification yesterday after much hounding by players and fans on social media, after all the season did start last weekend so it would have been a good idea to tell players in advance. It revealed a change to the way players can stay or be promoted on to the main professional circuit next season.

Where once there was the EPTC Order of Merit to pluck 8 players from to remain on the tour, there is now a one season ranking list where the top 8 who aren’t in the top 64 will remain on tour with a fresh 2 year card. Clear? OK we’ll move on to the next one.

Where once there was the EPTC/EBSA Amateur ranking list from the 6 European Tour events, we now have a similar system from the 2 that remain, namely the Paul Hunter Classic in Germany and the Gibraltar Open, in errmm, Gibraltar. The top eight amateurs from this list being forwarded to a play off to play for two tour cards. These are of course open to all nationalities. 

Well, you can probably guess which one of these I am fine with and which one I am not.

You read it correctly. Amateur players in the UK now have to travel to Germany and Gibraltar to stand any chance, outside of Q-School, of turning professional. The last two seasons have been a feast for the amateurs though very costly, this season we are entering the famine, which also doesn’t come cheap.

You may remember that last week myself and Shaun Murphy announced our proposal for the future of the amateur game, it was read by over 30,000 people and even picked up coverage on the BBC. It was met with overwhelming positivity by a sometimes sceptical snooker community and discussions between the WPBSA, World Snooker, Shaun and I have been going on in the background.

I’m not stupid enough quite yet to spit the dummy out, there is nothing to suggest that we still might not be able to do something for the amateurs this season, outside of a scaled down Snookerbacker Classic. But with news yesterday of another 2 main tour nominations being given to China, in addition to the IBSF nominations and the tour cards for the Asian Champion and Asian Under-21 Champion, I do have to ask why the same cannot be extended to the UK, where the sport is as popular as ever amongst amateur players and let’s face it, the standard is higher than all other areas outside Asia, for now at least.

Like I say, discussions are ongoing, some more positive than others. But at least now the alternative for amateurs is out in the open and up for discussion. If you are a promising young player or even one of the many that have been steadily improving over the last few years thanks to the EPTC circuit and feel ready to take that next step up into the professional game, as things stand your options this season are limited to three competitions. That’s a pretty grim prospect for the new breed of budding professionals and a serious worry for the future of the sport in the UK, you can’t build a house on shaky foundations.  

With this in mind and the World Snooker masterplan now revealed, I wonder, can they really afford to close the door on our proposal?

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