Sheffield snooker: Barry Hearn will move world championships from Crucible ‘when tennis leaves Wimbledon’

World Snooker boss Barry Hearn says he will move the world championships from the Crucible ‘when tennis leaves Wimbledon’.

Sunday, 1st May 2022, 8:26 pm

Speaking on the Today Programme, Mr Hearn, the chairman of World Snooker, said the Crucible had history that could not be bought and wanted to keep the tournament in the city.

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Asked if there was any merit in moving from the Crucible and taking the tournament around the country, he said: “I think the moment Wimbledon does the same we’ll follow suit. We’re talking about history. We’re talking about people having silly little ideas because they get a bit too much time on their hands.

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The Betfred World Snooker Championship trophy at The Crucible, Sheffield. Picture date: Saturday April 16, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story SNOOKER World. Photo credit should read: Richard Sellers/PA Wire.

“But it’s not about a few quid of gate money. If anything, yes, let’s build a bigger Crucible – I’m up for that, but the history of the Crucible location…

“Madison Square Gardens...has moved several times during its existence, but it’s still called Madison Square Gardens. So there’s no reason why the Crucible shouldn’t be re-built. But I’d like to keep it in Sheffield because it has the history, and history, for once in someone’s life is something you can’t buy.”

Australian snooker player Neil Robertson last week questioned The Crucible’s suitability to host the Snooker World Championship, saying it lacked the atmosphere of other tournaments like the Masters, and he suggested using a second Crucible.

Other players to speak critically of the 980-capacity Crucible include Shaun Murphy, Stephen Maguire and Judd Trump, though Anthony McGill and Sheffield’s Yan Bingtao are among those who have defended the venue.

Barry Hearne says the tournament will leave the Crucible 'when tennis leaves Wimbledon'

Sheffield City Council has a contract to host the World Snooker Championship until 2027.

This week it was suggested that a purpose-built 3,000-seat ‘Billiardrome’ arena could be the answer to keeping the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield.

Plans were first drawn up some 20 years ago by architect James Burland, the man behind the City of Manchester Stadium, but have resurfaced.

Mr Burland believes a new venue would give the annual showcase the setting it deserves, providing a huge step-up in capacity without sacrificing the atmosphere that makes the Crucible such a spine-tingling place in which to play and watch snooker.

Sheffield prepares to welcome World Snooker back for another year. Barry Hearne says the tournament will leave the Crucible 'when tennis leaves Wimbledon'