Terrestrial television coverage is key to the future of snooker. That was the message from World Snooker chief executive Jim McKenzie today after the BBC had given public backing to the professional game’s governing body.

McKenzie is delighted that the BBC have gone on record as saying they will fulfil their obligations under a new six-year contract with World Snooker and want to build on a relationship going back more than 30 years.

He believes that is a compelling reason for the players to stay with World Snooker and reject a rival tour being set-up by The Sportsmasters Network.

‘Without terrestrial television coverage, professional snooker will not survive,’ warned McKenzie. ‘That’s why the new six-year contract we have signed with the BBC is so important to the future of the sport.

‘Television coverage guarantees exposure for players. If you take away this exposure, players’ personal image rights will be greatly devalued and they will lose their sponsors.

‘Without the BBC deal, professional snooker will not attract new sponsors. Without new sponsors, the sport will not move forward.’

The new contract not only guarantees 210 hours of coverage on BBC1 and BBC2 but also includes a marketing strategy to regenerate the sport.

TSN have already stated that without terrestrial TV coverage, their tour will not succeed. McKenzie is now hoping that the BBC’s vote of confidence will encourage players to think again.

World Snooker have called a summit meeting at the Celtic Manor Hotel, Newport, for Monday, February 19 (12 noon) when they will expand on their plans for the future. McKenzie says it is vital that every player attends.

He told members in a letter sent out on Wednesday: ‘Only World Snooker, your association working in your best interests, can deliver a guaranteed fixture list for the 2001-2002 season and beyond, prime time BBC and Sky coverage and a new non-tobacco sponsor. That’s guaranteed income for you and the long-term survival of snooker.’

McKenzie again stressed in the letter that World Snooker now has in place a professional management team with the right skills to drive the sport forward plus partnerships with external agencies who are helping to market the game.

He added: ‘We are urging every one of our members to attend so that they can get the full facts and ensure they are in a position to make the right decision for the future of snooker.’

For more details contact:

World Snooker Media Office on 0117-317-8200