Chinese ambitions for top snooker event

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It appears inevitable the World Snooker Championship will one day leave its spiritual home.

The sport’s biggest tournament has been staged in Sheffield for the past 36 years and is set to stay at the Crucible Theatre until at least 2015. Barry Hearn, chairman of World Snooker, said last year he would be happy for the event to remain in the Steel City “until the day I die”.

However, China, the sport’s growing force, are keen to host the blue-riband tournament. In fact, World Snooker stages five out of the sport’s 10 rankings events in the country.

Stephen Hendry, a seven-time Crucible winner, said: “China definitely have ambitions to take over the sport and have the worlds.

“There is no danger in the near future of it leaving Sheffield. I think as long as Barry [Hearn] is running the game, the worlds will always be held at the Crucible. He realises how important that place is for snooker.

“Everybody says it is like our Wimbledon and it is the mecca for snooker. You only have to walk around Sheffield during the tournament to see how the whole city is transformed.”

Hendry hopes the worlds stay on these shores.

And the retired Edinburgh-born potter has suggested: “I would like a situation similar to the British Open in golf where you have four or five top venues which you could just alternate.

“At least that way you know if it leaves the Crucible it will go back there in the future.”