The Fountain #10, March 23rd 1997

Snooker Lets Itself Down ... Again!

It seems to me that everyone who plays and follows snooker loves the game with a passion, the reason why is that the game itself is great fun and addictive to play and watch. Yet the people who control snooker consistently let the sport down. I am afraid to say the root cause has always been money and power. Many people over the years have lived very nicely out of the sport and there is nothing wrong with that. However it seems that those who benefit the most tend never to think about the future of the game, they only take what they can while they can. I have been to meetings where the board has been attacked verbally by its members who were unhappy with the way things were. I remember one such moment when David taylor (the Silver Fox) stood up and accused the board of being unfair and looking out for their own interests. This was funny really because David Taylor sat on one of the worst and most questionable boards ever! In one corner we have Ian Doyle who seems to enjoy signing up any player as long as they have a chance of life in the 32 This does nothing for the player but serves mr Doyle who gets another vote. Is all this the correct way for snooker to proceed with one man calling all the shots? Ian Doyle is an asset to the game no question, but to let him govern the whole show would not be right. The real truth is that behind the scenes snooker has been a mess for years with internal squabbles law suits and the like, all because of money and power.

Snooker still has the chance of making it big in the media again. It has a very strong viewing base, but sponsors will keep away until the ruling body sorts out the mess it is in and shows everybody they can be a respected ruling body of a world sport and not some committee of a working mens club. I know many people read my page around the world and it is those people I feel most sorry for, because if snooker is denied the correct sponsorship for the lack of organisation it will stop the expansion of the game around the world. There are so many people from all over the world who write to me telling me there is no snooker on television in their country, and there never will be without sponsors. Snooker only really has two sponsors and they are both Tobbaco companies. How come when Steve Davis beat Ronnie in the Bensons final three weeks ago Ten million people in the UK watched this match. Sponsors should be faling over themselves to sign their name to a tournament like this. Where else could they get that kind of coverage? Well in the UK it could only come from football, and the revenue would be huge. So the answer is that sponsors are afraid of the image that snooker has made itself down the years. They also think that snooker's audience is made up of old people and they are right it is. Anyone who has read my articles knows how I feel about making snooker appeal to a younger audience, I want to see snooker played and watched all over the world, and I would like to see people running it as a long term project and not for short term personal gain. Will i see this? Probably not, but I would settle for somewhere in the middle!

I am sad to announce that I am no longer the manager of Mark King. I have travelled around with Mark for about five years, but by mutual agreement we have gone our seperate way. Mark has the potential to be a top eight player and if he really works hard I know he can join the elite club, however hard work is never easy and it is now up to him to really show us all what he can do. He has a tremendous base to launch from following his fantastic run in the Regal Welsh, this confirms what I have been saying for a long time that any player from inside the 100 can win a tournament. The depth of talent is amazing. The only fear I have for Mark is that he sits back now because he thinks he has made it. I have always told him that this is where the hard work begins! I wish him all the best and I for one will sit back and watch the rest of his career with interest.

The World Championships this year will be the best ever, with the biggest ever pay day in snooker and so many players playing well, the recipe for a clasic tournament is there. The main players are looking good. God ..oops sorry, I mean Stephen Hendry seems relentless today (22/3/97) he is in yet another final, the Irish Masters. Can he win his seventh title? Well it would be a brave man to bet against it. I will probably live to regret this statement but I do not think it will be his year this time. It could be Ronnie O'sullivans, although he still says stupid things in press conferences he is maturing on the table. I guarantee he will be world champ one day, but this year ... well maybe. Jimmy white is back on song and he does love the crucible but whirlwind he is not, He would need some luck and to play out of his skin. I would love Jimmy to win It would give everyone a lift, and the game would benefit too, but alas I think not, the players are too strong for him. As for the rest it will depend on who is on form on the day , I have made a short list of the possible winners.

These are my top six, but do not rule out the nugget Steve Davis. He has a shout, but he will need a good run. Young Mark Williams could spring a surprise or two, but I think he will run out of bullets over such long matches. The winner should come from my six, but you never know. I remember three years ago Steve Davis said the days of an underdog winning the world title are gone, now he is the underdog. I wonder if he feels the same way, especially after his great Masters triumph! I believe each year brings a new risk for the top players. More underdogs winning matches they shouldn't. This year could spring a surprise. Well I for one think it will as much as it will be a surprise if God doesn't win!

Please keep writing to me with any questions you have, also if you want any tips or questions answered.


Richard Fountain

The Fountain is a column written by Richard Fountain from England. He is an ex snooker coach and used to be the manager of Mark King. He will be writing to you throughout the snooker year and will try to give you all the inside info on this great game. Please feel free to write him <[email protected]> with any questions you may have.

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