Snooker chief Hearn’s plea to save World Championship from Qatar move

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Former chairman of World Snooker and Matchroom Sport president Barry Hearn has issued a plea to Sheffield Council that the World Championship could move from the Crucible unless action is taken. He has already confirmed that talks have taken place regarding moving the event to Qatar upon the expiry of the current contract in 2028.

Hearn was in attendance as Luca Brecel became the first mainland European to lift the world title after a thrilling 18-15 victory over Mark Selby, but later in the evening hinted that the local council needed to build another Crucible in order to keep the tournament. He told BBC Radio 5 Live: “We’re urging Sheffield Council please, please don’t lose us, could you just build us a bigger Crucible?”

Hearn has already admitted that talks have taken place with Qatar over hosting the World Championship, as they have already asked to be in consideration when the current contract in Sheffield expires. “Take the Crucible – the debate goes on. 980 seats. I am getting closer with Saudis on tournaments,” Hearn previously said.

“Qatar said to me last week ‘What year does that World Snooker contract run out with Sheffield? They asked me. I said: ‘It’s 2027-28.’ They replied: ‘Can we be in consideration? Can we have a say in it?’

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“They don’t have a snooker background. But it’s ‘if you want to do a nice big event, then we will put you in the mix.’ Who knows what is going to happen. I mean I have told them [Sheffield] what they have got to do. I haven’t seen too much activity in that way. We are part of the Sheffield development plan. But again I need a bit more juice on it. I live in a world of people talking about things.”

It is not the first time that Hearn has made the same request to Sheffield Council, as Etihad Stadium architect James Burland has made a proposal to develop a 3,000-seat arena in Sheffield, but those plans have not yet been advanced.

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Last year Hearn said: “We have an agreement with Sheffield Council for the next five years. That will be honoured. I’ve always made it quite clear that while I’m alive I want snooker to stay in Sheffield. We’re synonymous with Sheffield, the history we have created.

“But there are early-stage talks at the moment with Sheffield Council. Why don’t we look at perhaps building a new Crucible in Sheffield? Maybe a 2,000 or 2,500-seater venue instead of 900, which we know we’ll fill up every time.

“And maybe a little bit more space on the playing arena. It’ll cost money. It all starts with the first conversation and it ends when we open the doors to a magnificent new Crucible.”

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