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Barry Hearn Interview: Barry Hearn Issues Thinly Veiled Threat To Macau 5; Snooker Is brutal: It’s Win Or Starve

Jack Comerford
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“Snooker Is brutal: It’s Win Or Starve”

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In an exclusive interview with BettingSites.co.uk, former President of the WST Barry Hearn has given his opinion on the outcome of the Macau 5 controversy as well as revealing his disagreement with the WST’s mandatory £20,000 fund for contracted players.

Hearn also believes that China is the future of Snooker as long as they can learn to play by the rules and stop tarnishing the sport.

Hearn issues thinly veiled threat to Macau 5 

In the aftermath of the agreement between the WST and ‘Macau 5’ rebels, WST president, Barry Hearn expresses sympathy towards the 5 players that he believed took ‘selfish’ actions;

Hearn: “It’s really weird, I mean, obviously, they’ve become quite famous, the Macau Five. The media will make out it is a revolt against authority, but it really isn’t.

It’s just a question of, when you sign a contract, does it mean anything? The World Snooker Tour is really quite easy to understand. It’s 130 players under contract.

I think everyone’s quite selfish in life. I don’t blame them, I think it’s human nature. You have a situation where an offer came up to some players to earn more money. 

We’re happy for people to play in other events, providing it doesn’t clash with something where the WST have made guarantees to sponsors, to broadcasters, to fans.

We have to insist on those rules. The Macau five will get their few pieces of silver at some stage and good luck to them, as long as they follow the rules, we’ll get on fine.”

Snooker is brutal: It’s Win or Starve 

The WST’s mandatory £20,000 fund for contracted players is heavily contested by Hearn, the president believing that the ruthlessness of winning and losing should be applied to the sport;

Hearn: “I probably would never have brought that in {£20,000 basic expenses for contracted players}, because I like death and glory. Get in there and win, and make a lot of money.

Or you starve, and that’s brutal, but sport is brutal. And I always felt that you need to put that thought in people’s heads. Ruthlessness. This is not a world for losers. We can’t all win, but we can all try to win.”

China is the future of Snooker, if they play by the rules

The 10 Chinese Snooker players caught in match-fixing scandal has the power to tarnish the WST’s relationship with its most profitable market, however Hearn praised the Chinese government for its handling of the scandal;

Hearn:  “We sent 10 players home to China recently – two of those players were in the top 16 in the world. They were earning hundreds of thousands of pounds and to my disappointment, they broke the rules. I hope they’ve learned their lesson.

Some of them were very bad offences, and I think the Chinese government has actually put a surcharge on top of that to maintain the message.

China’s a massive market. Probably 40 percent of our business in snooker comes from China. Can we afford to throw out 10 Chinese players? How does that affect our relationships with China? In the end we felt we had no choice but to do it.

Nevertheless, we took the moral high ground and I’m delighted to say that our colleagues in China and the authorities there actually applauded us for taking that. Funnily enough, since then the Chinese young players here have suddenly sprouted some really good results.

I don’t know why that is, but China will be a major force in snooker, providing it operates within the rules.”

Jack Comerford

Jack is a junior content writer for Betting Sites UK. He has previously published local sports stories for the Shildon Town Crier, where he is based. Jack's main hobby is football, being a massive fan of Newcastle United.