SHEFFIELD has retained the snooker World Championship until at least 2017 after the BBC today extended its contract to broadcast the sport’s main tournaments.
The World Championship has been played at The Crucible since 1977, but growing interest in the sport from China had led to speculation it could be moved overseas.
A large part of the snooker season is played in the Far East, but the World Championship, UK Championship and Masters - historically the most important events on the snooker calendar - will be televised on the BBC until 2017.
It is believed the BBC has signed its contract on the understanding the World Championship will remain on British soil. World Snooker is contracted with Sheffield Council to bring the tournament to the city.
Barry Hearn, chairman of World Snooker, said: “This is wonderful news for the many millions of snooker fans throughout the UK who love watching the sport on the BBC. Last year’s World Championship was watched by 28.5 million people, which proves what a wide appeal there is for snooker.
“The World Championship, the UK Championship and the Masters are among the highlights of the sporting calendar so it’s terrific they will remain on terrestrial TV.”
Mark Selby, number one in the snooker rankings, said: “Everyone’s first memories of snooker are watching on the BBC, so it’s great for the players and fans to know those tournaments will remain on terrestrial TV for at least the next four years.”
Should the snooker remain in Sheffield for good?