5 August 2008
So much for holidays...
World Snooker has written to its players informing them that the sponsors of the game’s two biggest events have terminated their contracts with immediate effect.
888.com will no longer sponsor the World Championship. They signed a five-year deal in 2006 but are ending it after only three.
Saga Insurance has withdrawn its support of the Wembley Masters.
Both companies invoked early termination clauses in their contracts. According to World Snooker, the reason given in each case is the current problems in the financial markets.
This news is about as bad as it gets for the game and, in particular, for the governing body.
When the 888.com deal was originally announced, World Snooker chairman Sir Rodney Walker said: "I believe this is the first step in a transformation which will change the commercial face of snooker in the future.”
Oddly, there is no mention of the double sponsorship blow on the governing body's official website.
World Snooker told its players that they “ask for your further co-operation in assisting World Snooker to promote the game and our organisation in a positive light.”
In other words: “don’t criticise us for this.”
However, I suspect most players will reflect that while to lose one major sponsor can be seen as unlucky, to lose two suggests a big problem with the way the sport is being administered.
For the sake of snooker, everyone connected with it will hope replacement sponsors can be found, but I suspect the next few months will be rocky to say the least.