£27m deal to keep World Championship snooker in Sheffield will be signed next week

The World Championship snooker tournament at The Crucible
The World Championship snooker tournament at The Crucible
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This year's World Championship snooker tournament will be launched with a ceremonial signing of the deal to keep the prestigious event in Sheffield until at least 2027.

A commitment to keep the competition at its historic home for another decade was announced last year but the details of the contract have only just been agreed, with Sheffield Council leader Julie Dore formally approving the decision last Friday (March 31).

World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn

World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn

The tournament provides a £2.7m annual boost to the local economy, according to the council, making the deal worth around £27m to the city.

This year's championship is set to run at The Crucible, where it has been staged since 1977, from next Saturday (April 15) until Monday, May 1.

World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn and Councillor Dore are set to sign the new contract during a 40th anniversary celebration event at the venue next Friday, April 14.

Councillor Mary Lea, Sheffield Council's cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure, said: "Sheffield is the home of World Snooker. The Championship raises the city’s profile nationally and overseas, and I look forward to this continuing for many more years to come."

The tournament is watched by an estimated global TV audience of 350 million, and a council report describes it as an 'excellent vehicle for marketing the city and attracting investment', particularly from Asia, where snooker is hugely popular.

It states that losing the championships would damage the local economy and be 'harmful for the city’s reputation and ambition'.

"The city needs to retain its vibrancy, particularly as we to recover from the economic downturn and prepare ourselves to deliver ambitions for the city and growth of its economy moving forward," states the report.

"World Snooker presents an excellent vehicle for marketing the city and attracting investment and is particularly strong in the Asian market which is an increasingly important geo-political and economic area of the world with which the city is forging links.

"The coming decade will see many ambitions for the city realised and to support this we need to maintain a level of confidence, locally, nationally and internationally. Staging World Snooker Championships in the city centre is a key ingredient to maintaining that confidence and delivering a much needed annual boost to the local economy of around £2.7 million per annum."

Ahead of last year's announcement, there had been fears Sheffield could lose the tournament, with competition from other, larger venues, including arenas in China, to host the event.

But Mr Hearn eased those concerns by saying Sheffield was the sport's spiritual home and moving its flagship event would be like staging the FA Cup final away from Wembley or The Championships, Wimbledon leaving SW19.