“Further steps to strengthen our tour by moving closer to a completely level playing field with a 128-player flat draw are always on my mind. I want a system in snooker that’s totally open, totally transparent and totally available to every player that picks up a cue, based on fairness and quality of play.
We’re currently negotiating with Shanghai and Australia to fall into line with 128 players in round one – from 2015 for Shanghai and 2016 for Australia.
Until a flat-draw system is introduced, the top 16 players seeded through who do not win a match will receive their prize money but none of it will count towards their world ranking with effect from the 2014/15 season.
I can’t entertain a system any longer that rewards people with ranking points or ranking prize money when in fact they haven’t actually won a game on the snooker table.
Despite thousands of tweets over the last few days, which is my own fault for saying something big was going to be announced, I can confirm that the World Championship remains a minimum best of 19 frames in every round for 2015 and onwards.
However, in 2015, the World Championship will be expanded to 144 players with the top 16 still seeded through to the Crucible as their reward for the success they have enjoyed. The cut-off for 2015 World Championship will quite rightly be after the China Open.
All previous world champions will be invited to play in round one, which will have the top 64 seeded and a random draw for the remaining 64 players. Remaining spaces making up the field of 144 players will be used by the WPBSA to encourage further global participation.
We are spreading this game at break-neck speed around the world. Already we know a European Tour event will be held in Latvia for the first time in Riga from 7-10 August and we intend to continue making our push to all parts of the world with even more enthusiasm over the next few months.
So round one of the World Championship will be seeds 17-144 playing a flat-draw of 128 players. The first round losers will receive no prize money – they haven’t made the cut.
Round two will be the 64 winners, with the loser’s prize money increasing from £1,000 to £6,000. Round three will be the 32 winners, with the losers receiving prize money up from £5,000 to £9,000. The 16 winners will play at the Crucible against the top 16 seeds as this year. Losers will receive £12,000 but if a top 16 player loses his first game, none of that money will count towards his world ranking.
Prize money for the 2015 World Snooker Championship will increase to £1,350,000 – an increase of £134,000.
We appreciate the costs of being a professional snooker player and this increase will be predominantly spread among the lower-ranked players in the earlier-round matches. The winner’s prize therefore will stay at £300,000, the runner-up £125,000, the losing semis £60,000, quarters £30,000, last 16 at £20,000 and the last 32 at £12,000. High break prizes stay the same, as does the rolling 147 prize.
World Snooker is also pleased to announce that they will allocate a certain number of World Snooker invitations to players who have won multiple ranking titles in their career and selected in favour of those who have made a significant contribution to the sport of snooker.
They will be invited in order of lifetime tour earnings to participate in the Pro Tour for the next two seasons based on the following terms:
1. Invitations will be offered in all World Snooker ranking events where Pro Tour entries are less than 128 players. There are 132 players on the tour in major ranking events and 120 players in Players Tour events to allow us the opportunity to give eight local amateurs an opportunity via qualifying competitions.
2. Should additional players be required to complete the 128 or the 120 playing-fields then they will be selected from Q School rankings derived from the 2014 Q School events.
3. All World Snooker invitational players will be required to conform to the standard players contract in operation for that relevant season.
These names will be announced following the conclusion of the 2014 World Championship.
It doesn’t take a genius to say two of the names: Stephen Hendry and Steve Davis receive invitations, and we have the opportunity should we feel it necessary to invite other players up to a maximum of four.
We’re moving in the right direction. We are a long way from where I think we can get in terms of global participation in snooker and globalisation of our events.
Our total prize money for this forthcoming season will be a little over £8.5m. Frankly, with one or two other deals in the pipeline, we may get to £9m if we achieve what we’re setting out to achieve.
We’re in a good place, but there is no room for complacency and we have to illustrate at every level that our game is fair, transparent and open just to players of ability, with no protection just built on reputation.”