Out …. Peter Middleton
On 24th August the WPBSA announced the resignation of it’s part-
time Chief Executive, Peter Middleton. A standard press-release by
the Governing Body suggested he had left for business reasons,
specifically to concentrate on one of his newer appointments as
Chairman of Dome Europe. This company had planned to take over
the running of the Millennium Dome at the end of the year, but has
since pulled out of the deal.
Whether there was any deeper motivation behind the departure was
not disclosed, but it is known that several of his proposed changes
were being met by opposition from those with a more traditional view
within the WPBSA and a widespread disapproval from the public.
These proposals included moving the World Snooker Championship
from the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield and taking the event on a tour of
the United Kingdom. Another controversial suggestion was the
relaxation of the dress-code for certain events. This particular innovation
was widely rumoured to be connected with potential sponsorship
from a prominent clothing manufacturer.
Middleton’s objective to turn around the position with reducing
sponsorship has also seen no improvement. At the time of his departure,
there were even less sponsors than when he joined. Another prominent
project to develop an Internet presence had failed to materialise, and in
fact took a set backwards. The WPBSA website, which was originally
launched during the era of Rex Williams’ chairmanship, has since gone
off-line and with the new season underway, still carries an “under
Many of the players, especially those amongst the lower rankings,
expressed dissatisfaction at the way Snooker was being restructured
and increasing conflicts with WPBSA Board members may well have
played a role in his decision to depart at this time.
One fundamental change which Middleton did carry through was the
divorce of professional billiards and the amateur games from professional
snooker. Only time will tell whether this will prove a beneficial legacy.
In …. Jim McKenzie
Peter Middleton at the WSA.
On 11th October it was announced that
49 year-old Jim McKenzie would join
the WSA as Managing Director. He
previously served in the capacity of
Chief Executive of the WPBSA for a
period of five months in 1997. Prior to
this he had been Managing Director of
E. J. Riley Ltd for six years.
His earlier reign ended with his sacking
by the Rex Williams regime, which
marked the start of some bitter
infighting, threatening at one stage to
tear the association apart. His return
has been widely welcomed amongst the
general membership of the WSA where
he has remained a very popular figure.
Mike Russell has been fined £500 by the WPBSA for his early and
unauthorised departure from the England v India Test Match held in
Bombay during September 1999 (see ABP No.15). With the English
team in a winning position, Russell took an early flight to New Delhi
for a meeting with a marketing company, arrangements for which we
are told, had been known to the WPBSA. Unfortunately this meant
missing the presentation and reception with the sponsors. This was
reported by the Tournament Director, Mike Ferreira, and seen by the
WPBSA disciplinary committee as contravening their rules of conduct.
The fine was suspended for two years subject to Russell’s future good
In replying to this charge Russell had countered with a complaint of his
own against Ferreira. In a letter to the WPBSA he claimed that with the
score standing at 5-1 to the English team, Ferreira approached himself
and David Causier, who were about to start their pairs encounter
against Sethi and Patel, asking that they contrived to lose the game in
order that the overall match would still be alive on the final day when
television cameras would have been in attendance. As yet, the WPBSA
have not announced any action against Ferreira.
Sponsorship Deal for IBSF
The IBSF have secured a six year sponsorship agreement with The
Sportsmasters Network (TSN) who operate an Internet website. TSN
Chief Executive George Smith made the announcement on 26th July,
saying that he was “delighted to be entering this partnership with the
global administrators of the amateur and semi-professional game.”
Nobody at TSN was prepared to comment on how this sponsorship
would affect any billiards competitions run by the IBSF.
TSN have recently provided televised coverage of snooker which is
viewed through an Internet connection, although no such arrangements
are planned for the World Open Championship being held in
Middlesbrough in November.
Red, White & Stripy
The WBA have had talks with Saluc in Belgium who are producing a
White/Yellow set of billiard balls which has a thin black stripe on each
of the cue balls. The idea being to show the effects of side for the benefit
of TV viewers. This set will be used for all the professional tournaments
this season, and if available in time, will also be used in the jointly
promoted WBA/IBSF World Open in November.
World Professional Championship
Arrangements to stage the WBA World Professional Championship in
Chennai (Madras) in November were well advanced when news came
through that WPBSA Chairman, Mark Wildman, had ordered that the
event be cancelled due to threatened legal action by the IBSF.
The IBSF evidently felt that the WBA were in breach of an understanding
between the two bodies that the World Open Championship in
Middlesbrough would be the only World Billiards Championship to
be held in the year 2000.
A sponsorship package had been agreed for the WBA event with the
Indian television company, ZeeTV, which would have allowed for 8
hours live television coverage. The format was again to have been
multiple games of 50-up with a total of £50,000 in prize money. The
competition was to have been restricted to 12 players (top 8 seeded
through and 4 qualifiers) with qualifying groups arranged for Harrogate
and Bombay. Each of these groups would have produced two players
for the competition proper in India. Chairman of the WBA billiards
committee, Peter Gilchrist, advised that the event would now be staged
some time in January 2001.
World Matchplay Championship
The World Matchplay Championship will be the only professional
tournament to be played on the traditional time-limit format this season.
It will be held at the same venue as last year, the Centurion Hotel,
Midsomer Norton, from 27th February – 2nd March 2001.
The WBA are considering setting up a series of five Pro-Am events
covering the whole of England, which they will organise and contribute
£1,000 per event in prize money. The format will 50-up matches,
either best of five, or best of seven. Details are expected to be announced
at the end of the year although it has been made clear that should the
WBA go ahead with this idea, dates and venues will be selected so as
not to clash with the existing Amateur calendar.
UK Professional Championship
Preliminary rounds for the UK Championship will be held on 7th-8th
November at the North Ormesby Institute immediately prior to the
World Open Championship. This will
produce the two finalists who will
then travel to Bournemouth on
Wednesday 29th November where
they will play during the course of the
televised snooker tournament which
starts there the previous week. All
heats in the qualifying tournament will
be 50-up best of 7 games, with the
final being extended to best of nine.
The Provisional Draw for this event
shows a total entry of 18, which is
significantly down on the 27 who
entered last year when the event was
held at Harrogate.