Ronnie O’Sullivan calls for changing snooker pricing pattern: “It’s unfair”
Ronnie O’Sullivan called for a snooker restructuring to help lower-ranking players struggling to make money, especially by offering first-round losers enough prizes to cover their expenses.
Currently there is no cash prize for losing in the first round of tournaments, no travel or accommodation costs covered, which leaves players with no pocket if they are beaten in their opening game. .
While players in the top half of the standings may take these losses – with a first-round loss unlikely for them anyway – those making much less money outside of the top 64 must struggle.
After his second round victory over Michael Georgiou at the Scottish Open on Tuesday, O’Sullivan was asked about snooker funding and sparked some sort of tirade on the matter.
‘I’ll be honest with you, if I had a son I wouldn’t let him play snooker, so maybe there’s a good thing he doesn’t have the opportunity to play snooker, ”the Rocket told Eurosport.
“I would rather he played golf, soccer, tennis. I’d rather he curled up, just kidding! Personally if I had a child [that wanted to take up snooker] I wouldn’t want him to play snooker, really wouldn’t.
“Maybe 20-25 years ago it was a sexy sport, but it’s lagged a bit behind other sports.
“If you have a child, you would want him to play a sport like Emma Raducanu, she is doing fantastic. You look at golfers like Rory McIlroy and footballers, it’s just a fun sport to play.
“It’s just the right time, I guess. Maybe in 25-30 years snooker might be back on top, but for now I would be like ‘go get a workmate’. Forget about playing pool. This is my honest opinion.
“I’m not talking about the winners. I’m talking about the guys who are ranked 60, 70 in the world who are struggling. It’s not good for them. If you compare the 125th golfer and what he earns and the 125th snooker player, he would make a million dollars on the golf course. You can afford to miss a few cuts as you can earn enough money to make up for any losses you might incur.
“One way to fix that is to at least give the first round losers their expenses. A lot of these guys don’t have any money. It is unfair.
“Take it off the top.” The winners don’t really need that extra money, give it to the first-round losers so that at least it doesn’t cost them anything. So you can call it a job.
O’Sullivan speaking on the subject will give him a publicity boost, but it’s something that many players are clamoring for.
Mark Williams believes the professional tour should be cut from 128 players and the first round losers should be paid so that fewer players can be guaranteed a good income.
“There must be well over half of the tour that’s skinted,” said three-time world champion Metro.co.uk in November. “You have to get to the last stages to make a lot of money and there aren’t a lot of players out there. They’re normally the same every time, so it’s very difficult to make a living.
‘You never get 128 [pro] players at an event anyway, so I would have cut the tour because it’s too big, I don’t know how many. Once you’re on the tour, hopefully everyone can make a living, including paying off the first-round losers.
“The incentive is to go on tour and once you’re on the professional world tour you should be guaranteed to make a living. You don’t have to worry about losing. It will be more difficult to live with, but it might be possible for everyone to make a living at this time.
Asked about the topic at the recent UK Championships, world number 55 Anthony Hamilton said it seemed obvious to pay first round losers, especially in this event which offers a healthy £ 6,500 to win a match.
The Rocket has suggested reducing the prize money for tournament winners, but a redistribution earlier in the event is another option.
“Of course he should! Hamilton asked Metro.co.uk if there should be a cash prize for the first round losers. “£ 6,500 for the winners and nothing for the losers?” Should be £ 5,000 and £ 1,000.
£ 5,000 is still a good amount of money to be made. I just think it’s sensationalism, to make it as brutal as possible. You’re not asking to make money by getting beaten up, you are just covering your expenses as some of these places don’t come cheap.
It can be such a struggle for players at the lower levels of the tour that some pros have jobs outside of snooker to help pay the bills.
Iranian Soheil Vahedi, who left the tour last season and now competes as an amateur, has previously explained how difficult it is to survive in the game, especially on foreign soil, and called for more support from the World Snooker Tour.
‘They [WST] need to sit down and talk about this, ”said Vahedi Metro.co.uk earlier this year. “They have to find a way to support people so that they don’t end up with no money at all. This is what my request is and I don’t think there is anyone who would disagree with this.
“If we give up the tour and never play snooker again, it’s not good for the game. There would be fewer people who would want to play snooker or come to the UK because they will know how difficult it is. ‘
Joe Perry, a pro since 1992 and a former player’s championship winner, agrees the sport risks losing players who can’t fund their careers as they try to climb the rankings.
“We’re going to lose players,” the gentleman told Metro.co.uk. “Some are lucky, they have financial backing, but most can’t keep trying and struggling. Eventually the money runs out and you can’t keep chasing the rainbows.
“It’s sad because you get the right breaks and the right time, some of these players might go on and have great careers, but it’s so hard to break through. The rewards at the bottom… well, it doesn’t. there are no rewards.
“You are a professional snooker player. You don’t get a letter at your door saying, “We’re going to let you play on the tour next year. You win it, however you earn it, you should get something.
“A £ 250 dish for losing the first round won’t change a thing, but it’s something. You won’t lose money in tournaments which shouldn’t happen if you are a professional snooker player.
“When Barry Hearn was president of Leyton Orient, didn’t his players get a salary if they lost 4-0 on a Saturday? Of course not.’
The WST thinking about this is that they don’t want to reward players for not having accomplished anything. However, most appeals are not about making a full living from losing money in the first round, but just covering the losses.
Some suggest that if a player has a hard time making money they just aren’t good enough to be on the tour, but the way the tour is structured makes it very difficult for newcomers to progress.
Those at the bottom of the leaderboard will regularly play against players at the very top, which means it’s about being constantly put on bottom rather than a gradual process of learning to swim.
Perry explains: “Some of the guys from Australia came to play at Cambridge, one was Vinny Calabrese and I remember what he said, it hit me.
“He had a series of draws where he played Barry Hawkins, John Higgins, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Williams, a few others that he was never likely to beat.
“The next draws came out and he had Nigel Bond and Jimmy White and he said, ‘I’ve got a good draw! “I thought to myself, this is not a good draw.
“When the bets came out they were like 1/3 or 2/5, but since the other draws were almost impossible to win, they looked good. He lost them both because there was so much pressure on him to win.
“He was a talented little player, but who’s going to break through and play them kinda week after week?” It’s brutal and I don’t like it.
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