Neil Notes: Hearn wants to extend Crucible deal

World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn.
World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn.

Proceedings get underway today at 10am at snooker’s very own ‘Theatre of Dreams’ – and in 17 days time a new Crucible champion will be crowned.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s column, defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan remains the main attraction for snooker fans, although there is a glittering array of talent on show.

And whether it’s one of the many die-hard fans who book holidays every year to watch the drama unfold in the city – or it’s the armchair fan who tunes in once a year to watch the green baize game at it’s peak – there’s no doubting the Dafabet World Championship offers something special for everyone.

Sheffield is synonymous with snooker ever since the World event was first staged at the Crucible back in 1977.

Now snooker supremo Barry Hearn – the World Snooker chairman – has revealed the sport’s governing body are close to signing a new deal to keep the event at the Crucible until 2017.

“We will have another agreement to stay at the Crucible in two or three months,” said Hearn.

“The two most fundamental people, as far as the World Championship goes, are the BBC and Sheffield City Council. While we have their support we stay. And I honestly believe we will always have their support.”

On the table, the ‘Rocket’, gunning to win a third successive Crucible crown and his sixth in total – equaling Steve Davis’ record – kicks off his title-defence against Finland potter Robin Hull, the world No 122, and lowest ranking player in the tournament.

Fellow Essex player Stuart Bingham opens his account against Dubliner Ken Doherty, the 1997 Crucible champion.