Thursday, 31 May 2007

Snooker: Prize Money Finally Climbing

I was reading Billiards Boutique today as Pete Williams always has something good to say. He's seen that:

"...prize money will increase by £250,000 this season (assume he means 2008) with over £1 million available at the World Snooker Championships, including £250,000 to the eventual winner.

The additional prize money will see an increase in the payouts to the winner, runner-up and semi-finalists of the Royal London Watches Grand Prix, the Maplin UK Championship and the SAGA Insurance Masters."

This year was the first time we've seen an increase in the winner's cheque for the World Championships since 2003 when it was at its highest of £270,000. It certainly goes to show how much of a barren spell snooker has had to endure since the banning of tobacco sponsorship.

Going back to 1983 when Cliff Thorburn won the World Championships and in the years running up to 2003, the winner's cheque increased approximately 10 to 15 thousand pounds per year. It's no wonder every kid in a snooker club wanted to be a professional snooker player. I guess you could say that with growth like that, - even though growth was clearly declining - ...something had to give. And it did! People were starting to complain when Jimmy was the only one allowed to smoke in the snooker final. Not only were people complaining at the Crucible, there was a national non-smoking movement gaining pace, and people were complaining all over the country.

2006 was the worst year in recent times for a professional snooker player when the World Championship prize money (or at least the winners cheque) dropped 20% from £250,000 to £200,000 from the previous year. This was, of course, when Embassy were no longer allowed to advertise on the telly and World Snooker were ill prepared in finding a new sponsor. That's one hell of a pay cut! That meant that the winners cheque was the same amount in 2006 than it was 10 years earlier in 1996!! Coincidentally, in those two years, Peter Ebdon was runner-up, sods law, he missed the biggest runner-up cheque by a year. Of course this was a time when professional snooker players were moaning like crazy at the World Snooker Association as they thought - and in some cases rightly - their careers were falling apart around their ears!

If Billiards Boutique is correct, 2008 sees a massive jump in the winners cheque, a £30,000 increase! And last year we saw a £20,000 increase, that's an increase of 10% in 2007 and 13.6% for 2008. The last time we saw a similar kind of increase was way back in 1990 when Hendry beat White in their first final 18-12. That year Hendry took home £120,000, an increase of 14.3%

The biggest increases we've seen in the modern game are in 1973 where we saw the sponsor at the time, Park Drive, increase the winners cheque by a whopping 375%, from £400 to £1,500!! Ray Reardon, the winner that year must have been delighted! Conversly, Alex Higgins, who won the championship the previous year and only a measly 400 quid must have been a bit miffed! And he only won £25,000 in 1982! There might be your reason as to why he's been so bitter and twisted over the years (I am an Alex fan by the way)! More recently in 1993, Embassy increased the winners cheque by 16.7% from £150,000 to £175,000.

Let's hope the prize money stays on the increase for a good few years to come, it should help to attract some real talent.

Oh and by the way,'s worth noting that past performance is no guide to future performance!!! :-)

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