Opinion: Has Sheffield lost snooker?

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SNOOKER loopy or not, there’s little doubt that the green baize gets Sheffield noticed across the globe.

It helps to raise the profile of the city, no question.

And so it surprised me to be talking to a very well thought of city leader who feels it has had its day. In fact, self-same person insisted that the days and days of televised snooker, beamed from Sheffield, actually served to portray us as a ‘one big working man’s club with little or no aspiration’. I was shocked.

Firstly because I grew up in the halls of working men’s clubs, and count a British Legion as my local boozer. I’m proud to be a ‘working man’.

I remain 100 per cent convinced that hosting Barry Hearn’s World Championship does nothing but good for Sheffield.

They should be careful what they wish for. The Chinese consider the billiard boys superstars. So keen are they to pinch the game from under our noses that they’ve built an exact replica of the Crucible Theatre and are waving lucrative offers at the sport’s governing body in order to convince them to ditch the Steel City.

If you want to see Ronnie O’Sullivan and co in Sheffield, tickets for next year’s event go on sale tomorrow (Tuesday 6th May). With The Crucible contract secure only in the short-term, it may be your last chance.

by James Mitchinson