Increased prize money, greater playing opportunities and more efficient management were just some of the pledges made to snooker players at the sport’s annual general meeting in Birmingham today.

Jim McKenzie, managing director of World Snooker, outlined plans for the future and told members that the sport’s governing body had already made ‘significant progress’ to put the Association back on a strong financial footing.

While the financial accounts for the year ending June 30, 2000, reported a loss of £792,138, a profit of around £1million will be announced on the current season.

‘Since our presentation of ‘The Way Forward’ delivered at the EGM in February this year, we have made significant progress,’ said McKenzie. ‘Our main priority then was to put the Association back on a strong financial footing so that we could start to deliver benefits for our members.

‘As promised, we have now achieved this and for the current season will record a profit of around £1million. Also, as promised, we have put in place a highly-skilled executive team which has the drive and the ambition to take the sport forward quickly.

‘I believe that snooker is in safe hands and that after ten years standing still, the sport is now ready to move forward with a new, fresh image.’

McKenzie flew out to China last week to present World Snooker’s plans for the future to the top players competing in the China Open. He gave more details to the members today.

New television contracts with the BBC (for the next six years) and BSkyB (for the next four years) guaranteeing more than 400 hours of exposure will enable World Snooker to increase the total prize fund by almost 30 per cent to £6.9million for the 2001-2002 season.

The number of players on the Main Tour, which currently stands at 160, will be reduced to 128 with prize money guaranteed for the top 80. There will be nine ranking events – Malta being added to the eight being staged this season.

There will also be 24 Pro-Am competitions throughout the season, with best results counting towards qualifying points for entry to the Main Tour.

Main Tour qualifying will be staged at permanent regional Centres of Excellence so that matches can be played throughout the season rather than in one block.

McKenzie also revealed details of the new commercial subsidiary being set up by World Snooker to market the sport and make it more attractive to potential sponsors and business partners.

World Snooker has already attracted a new sponsor in Coalite, who are supporting next month’s Nations Cup, and will be launching their website during the event.

The composition of the board remained unchanged. Vice-chairman Jason Ferguson and Jim McMahon were both re-elected while Jimmy Chambers, who was co-opted on to the board in January, was elected by the members.

Five candidates stood for three places. Ferguson received 33 votes, Chambers 29 and McMahon 19. Ewan Hunter (15 votes) and Mark Johnston-Allen (eight) were both unsuccessful.

Dennis Taylor, the 1985 world champion, has resigned from the board with effect from December 27, 2000.

For more details contact: WSA Media Office on 0117-317-8200