New Minimum Guaranteed Salary Will Save Snooker Careers Says Neil Robertson

The former world champion has commented on this key change
09:55, 08 Sep 2022

Former world champion Neil Robertson insists a new minimum guaranteed salary for lower-ranked players will save careers. 

Snooker has been badly hit during the Covid pandemic by the loss of the lucrative China tournaments which are still yet to return. 

And that coupled with the current cost of living crisis sees many of the 130 on the circuit on the breadline and struggling to stay involved. 

As a result World Snooker Tour and the WPBSA are trialling for a season a £20,000 guarantee paid in two chunks – £10,000 this month and £10,000 more in January. 


And world No4 Robertson, 40, believes this is “fantastic news” and will enable young prospects to play with less fear and kick on knowing bills will get paid. 

Robertson said: “It is a really good decision and use of funds from World Snooker and the WPBSA, and I am very pleased to hear about it.  

“Even as a top player earning decent money you remember what it was like early in your career, and you also know what it is like at the moment for lower-ranked pros. 

”And it has been especially hard. The pandemic saw lots of big-money tournaments in China and elsewhere fall off the calendar, and they are not back yet. 

“So there have been real issues with prize money, covering expenses and gaps in the schedule.  This is a better use of the 2.5 per cent levy we pay on all prize money. 

“I have helped sponsor players myself before that were in real difficulty. I know this a year’s trial. But if they can sustain it, it changes everything for young would-be pros. 

“All of a sudden being a pro snooker player become viable. Some of those lower down maybe even have part-time jobs at their clubs or elsewhere. 

“And it would mean they could focus 100 per cent on practice, maybe upgrade their tables to the better tour standard which is a big deal, and cover their travel and expenses. You can be back off the tour by the time you adjust to the tables. 

“Listen, £20,000 won’t cover everything by any means, but it has come at a really good time with the cost of living crisis in the UK.  

“I still remember playing matches, deciders, even being on match ball and thinking ‘this is for the next three months’ rent’. And that doesn’t help you perform your best. 

“And it is why I have always lived a fairly modest life, I don’t ever want to have those thoughts again.  

“Other guys will have been going through that, thinking ‘If I win this that’s the rent and utility bills paid for a few months’. This will offer some peace of mind to help them push on. 

“My fellow Australian Ryan Thomerson who turned pro this summer is the first player I think of – this would help someone like him to buy a table and get it recovered.  

“Players like myself, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump and Mark Selby are fortunate that we are playing for the big prizes and good money. But there has to be some incentive for those turning pro, and this may encourage more strong amateurs to give it a go.” 

WST chairman Steve Dawson said: “We are delighted to join forces with the WPBSA and its players organisation to fund this new programme. 

“We recognise that these are tough times for many people given the cost of living crisis and that a £20,000 guarantee provides an important level of reassurance for many players who need to plan and prepare for life on tour. 

“The top stars on our tour earn vast sums, in fact three years ago we saw Judd Trump become the first player to earn £1 million in prize money in a single season. But we recognise that further down the rankings, there are no guarantees. 

“We have brought in this new system to support the many talented players who may need a level of security to fund their snooker careers. 

“Before Matchroom took control of the sport in 2010, overall prize money had sunk as low as £3.5 million and all players had to pay around £5,000 a year in entry fees. 

“We have since scrapped entry fees and the prize money levels are far higher. Due to the pandemic, we have not been able to stage ranking events in China since 2019, which has adversely affected our tour. 

“But we will return to China as soon as restrictions are reduced, and we are striving to create new events.” 

WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson added: “Players are represented and listened to through their own WPBSA players body, and I would like to thank that board for their support. 

“In addition, this demonstrates the value of becoming a World Snooker Tour card holder where we take talent retention and the welfare of our players seriously.” 

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