World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association
|Sport||Snooker (professional) and English billiards|
|Headquarters||Bristol, United Kingdom|
The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA), founded in 1968 and based in Bristol, the United Kingdom, is the governing body of men's professional snooker and English billiards. It owns and sets the official rules of the two sports and engages in promotional activities on behalf of the sports.
The WPBSA operates as both the professional governing body of the two cue sports, alongside its amateur counterpart in the International Billiards and Snooker Federation (IBSF), as well as a trade association promoting snooker and billiards more generally.
The WPBSA has four subsidiaries: World Snooker, World Billiards, World Ladies Billiards & Snooker (formerly the World Ladies Billiards & Snooker Association (WLBSA)) and World Disability Billiards & Snooker.
The World Snooker Association, is responsible for running and administering snooker's main ranking circuit events. These include the Shanghai Masters, World Open, UK Championship, Welsh Open, China Open and the World Snooker Championship. The latter is the most famous and popular event on the snooker season, with a remarkable global audience. Staged at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield since 1977, it is the richest, most prestigious and most important tournament in snooker. The subsidiary is often referred to informally as simply World Snooker, although this is more properly the title of its website.
The WPBSA head office is based in Bristol, England. Jason Ferguson is WPBSA chairman. The organisation also determines the rules and regulations of snooker and English billiards, including disciplinary matters.
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The organisation was founded in 1968. Prior to the formation of the WPBSA, the world governing body of both snooker and English billiards was the Billiards Association and Control Council (BACC or BA&CC).
In recent years, WPBSA has been successful in promoting the sport in China, snooker's biggest growth area. Both the Shanghai Masters and China Open (in Beijing) are fully funded by promoters in China; likewise the Jiangsu Classic, an invitation-only event. Further tournaments are expected to be established as the sport continues to thrive in the Far East. In 2008 WPBSA made inroads into the Middle East by staging the first ever ranking event in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
WPBSA owns and runs a snooker training academy in Sheffield, which is a coaching centre for talented players from the UK and overseas. Top professionals such as Ding Junhui and Peter Ebdon use it as a base, and it also houses the Paul Hunter Scholarship, which is awarded annually to a promising junior player.
In 2008, WPBSA launched the HotShots campaign, which is aimed at boosting the popularity of the sport among a younger audience, by raising the profiles of emerging talents such as Mark Selby, Mark Allen, and Jamie Cope.
World Snooker also has a charitable arm that helps players who have fallen on hard times. In 2008 this was investigated for accounting irregularities and the apparent involvement in the decision-making process of WPBSA officials. The decision to decline an application for a grant from Chris Small, a former player who retired due to Ankylosing spondylitis, was also criticised by several of the game's leading figures. WPBSA's commercial interests are managed by IMG, which also own Trans World International, who produce the game's coverage for the BBC.
In 2015, the Association submitted an unsuccessful bid for snooker to be played at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Another bid has been put forward for Paris 2024 through a newly formed branch of the association, the World Snooker Federation.
Criticism and controversy
The body has received criticism in the late 2000s. John Higgins has been particularly vocal in his opinion that World Snooker has not done enough to promote the game in new territories, particularly in Eastern Europe. The rival World Series of Snooker was launched by a consortium including Higgins in 2008.
When World Snooker scheduled the 2008 Bahrain Championship on dates which clashed with Premier League Snooker matches scheduled five months earlier with World Snooker approval, this caused four leading players (coincidentally including Higgins) to miss the Bahrain event and consequently lose ranking points—Higgins called the clash "laughable". Premier League organiser Barry Hearn commented that "I am very disappointed and I can't understand why World Snooker hasn't discussed dates with us", while Higgins and his manager Pat Mooney threatened legal action over the ranking points situation. In response, World Snooker referred to the Premier League being a "third-party promoter", noted that they run events on 11 out of 13 weeks between September and November, and (ignoring the threat of legal action if the players involved broke their Premier League contract) declared that "our members have the freedom of choice to pick which tournaments to participate in". The idea of scheduling the event in free time in January or March, or arranging it in advance of Premier League scheduling, was not mentioned.
In 2010, Barry Hearn acquired a controlling interest in snooker's commercial arm World Snooker Limited.
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