By Nick Harris
10 September 2010
Irony: snooker’s world No1 player cleared of match fixing but banned for six months and fined £75,000 for talking about betting, two days before the game’s governing body announces its latest tie-up with the bookmaking industry.
In a statement on World Snooker’s website today, it is announced that the online betting firm 12bet.com is the new title sponsor of the World Open, which takes place in Glasgow next month.
“The one-year deal will see the tournament, which runs from September 18 to 26 at the SECC in Glasgow, named the 12bet.com World Open,” the statement says.
“The world ranking event will feature star players including Ronnie O’Sullivan, Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis, Jimmy White, Mark Selby and World Champion Neil Robertson. It carries a total prize fund of £502,500 with the winner to receive £100,000.”
World Snooker’s chairman Barry Hearn said: “This is a fantastic piece of news for our sport at just the right time. We’ve made giant strides forward in the commercial success of snooker in recent months and this keeps the momentum going. The new World Open, with a new format, new venue, and new arena, is one of the cornerstones of the new era so we’re thrilled to have a title sponsor on board.”
More details and background at the World Snooker link above.
Snooker gave up smoking only to find itself wheezing for alternative investment. Cash from gambling firms is no doubt welcome and could even be seen – if pitched (ie: spun) the right way – that bookies have enough confidence in the integrity of the game that they want to be part of it. That could be a good news story.
But with three arrests of players in the recent past, ongoing legal actions, and suspicions within the game of widespread if “low level” rule breaches like insurance betting, there is surely an unpleasant catharsis still ahead for snooker, if Hearn’s stated aim of making the game cleaner than clean is to come to pass.