Eyes on the prize: Is snooker’s distribution of prize money unfair?

Snooker’s pot of prize money is greater than ever before, but not everybody is happy.

As snooker has become more globalised and the number of events has increased, players’ expenditure on travel, accommodation, and entry fees has risen dramatically.

For the game’s top players, who regularly proceed deep into tournaments, the cost of competing is more than covered by their share of the prize money.

For instance, on winning the 2016 World Championship, Mark Selby scooped a staggering £330,000.

However, for players languishing towards the lower end of the rankings list, the rewards of competition are difficult to come by: losing in the first round of a ranking event gets you no money at all.

Barry Hearn, who has boosted the prize money in the game from £3.5 million to £10 million since becoming Chairman of World Snooker in 2010, does not see anything wrong with the current distribution of money.

“Sport is about giving players opportunities, it’s not about giving them money. If they are good enough to take their opportunity they deserve the money they win. First-round losers get nothing, no matter who you are,” said Hearn in a 2013 interview with BBC Sport.

Yet Hearn’s approach has its critics. Throughout 2016, players and fans alike took to Twitter to air their concerns.


A suggestion which cropped up on numerous occasions was that the 128-strong professional tour should be scrapped and in its place there should be a 64-player tour and, below that, a second tour for players with world rankings between 64 and 128.

The rationale behind this is that a player has a greater chance of earning a living when competing with 63, as opposed to 127, other players.

Michael Wasley, 26, who recently hung up his cue on account of snooker being too expensive, is a keen supporter of the two-tier system.

Yet, in Hearn’s mind, there is no doubt. He is convinced that the 128-strong tour is a success and it is only right that the pay-outs are reserved for the victors.


As we say goodbye to 2016 and embrace the new year, it is a safe bet that snooker’s prize money debate will not fizzle out quietly.

But how will it end?


2 thoughts on “Eyes on the prize: Is snooker’s distribution of prize money unfair?

  1. Well written articles on this blog! 🙂

    I guess another similar-format sport is tennis. A certain professional tennis player traveled in his own caravan when on tour to save on accommodation. First-round losers in Grand Slams still get compensated for showing up. In fact, someone commented under an article about prize money in tennis that a player who can stay in the top 128 can make up to 160000 (dollars) simply from turning up.

    In an ideal world, no talented snooker player should hang up their cue due to lack of funds. Same applies to everything in life, really.


    1. Thanks for taking the time to check it out. Much appreciated. Your comment about tennis is interesting. I’ve often thought about professional snooker’s similarities/differences with professional tennis. I agree that snooker could take some lessons from tennis, particularly on the subject of prize money. Many thanks, Andrew from SnookerLife.


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