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Men's snooker ‘Crucible's days are numbered for snooker championships’

BARRY HEARN poured fuel on the fire today, warning Sheffield City Council that its days of staging the World Snooker Championship at the Crucible are numbered unless it builds a bigger venue.

The Crucible’s current deal for hosting the championships expires in 2027 — its 50th anniversary — however Hearn, the former World Snooker chairman and president of Matchroom, said there was no room for sentiment when it comes to making profit. “It’s all about the money,” he added.

Even seven-time winner Ronnie O’Sullivan suggested the championships should be moved to either Saudi Arabia or China in order to “maximise profit potential,” while player Hossein Vafaei labelled the iconic Crucible “smelly” and compared practice room facilities to playing in a garage.

Hearn told the BBC: “I am doing absolutely everything I can to stay in Sheffield and it takes two to tango — I’ll stay here while we’re wanted, and I think we’re wanted.

“But they’ve got to be realistic. We’ve said for the last few years we need a new venue that seats 2,500 to 3,000 people.”

Controversially, Saudi Arabia’s growing interest in the sport has dramatically changed the landscape for discussions, with the first ranking tournament due to be staged in the kingdom next season, and the second World Masters of Snooker doubling its prize for potting the golden ball to $1 million (or £800,000).

Hearn maintained he would have no qualms about taking the tournament away from the venue where it has staged every World Championship since 1977, and even proposed a scenario where it could be moved around the world on a rotational basis.

“The Crucible has got a fantastic history and it’s been a massive part of my life, but we’ve got to live in the real world. There’s a price for everything, whether we like it or not.”

But criticism of the Crucible has caused a backlash from a number of top players. Former winner Shaun Murphy calling Vafaei’s comments “sacrilege,” and six-time runner-up Jimmy White describing them as “absolute nonsense.”


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