Inside Lines: Hearn reveals his table plan for new ball-grabbing showpiece

The ubiquitous Barry Hearn, having scored heavily with darts and given snooker the kiss of life, now has a new sporting squeeze on his arm.

When we interviewed him a while back he revealed he was romancing a fresh love: table tennis. We can now reveal it has blossomed into an international event which he believes will grab us all by the ping pong balls.

Next month Las Vegas will stage the first World Ping Pong Championship over two days with 16 of the world's leading table tennis players competing for "several hundred thousand dollars" in prize money. Hearn promises it will take the game back to its roots, with old-style wooden bats, less spin and more slam-bam excitement.

Says Britain's leading sports impresario, promoter of everything from boxing to golf to fly fishing via the chairmanship of Leyton Orient FC: "I am working with a group of US backers who are putting millions into this. It will be table tennis with a difference. We are taking it back to when it was a big-time sport and thousands packed the arenas. You smacked the ball and it made that lovely noise. You could have rallies where you would stand 16 feet behind the table and smash it. That's when you had people watching. Now this championship will be shown on TV worldwide. It is the sort of event which has Sky written all over it, with long rallies, fierce hitting, lots of razzmatazz and more athleticism. If it works, we might have another darts on our hands and I'd like to bring it here. I can see a celebrity-studded event at the Royal Albert Hall with thousands on their feet cheering, just like the old days."

So what have the ITTF, the sport's world governing body, had to say about it? "Haven't even asked them. Governing bodies can be a bit negative so I find as you get older it is best to ignore them and do your own thing. We simply put the money on the table and if the players want it, they'll take it. We are not looking suddenly to put a team in the Olympics, but just to provide a top-quality event and entertain people."

The event takes place at the Palms Casino on 7-8 February. Paintball, dodgeball and crazy golf are other activities catching his entrepreneurial eye but speedway could be the next to get the Matchroom make-over as Hearn, 62, currently presiding over the Masters snooker at Wembley, looks for more sports to re-invent. And, of course, make a nice little Hearner.

Hammers back on track

West Ham's reported acquisition of the articulate Ulsterman Martin O'Neill as their new manager is surely a welcome boost in the escalating war of words over the future of London's Olympic Stadium.

Even more comforting must be the fact that among those members of the Olympic Legacy Board who will decide whether the Hammers (who would retain the athletics track as pledged by Lord Coe and Co) or Tottenham (who would dig it up) are to become occupants of the sacred site after the 2012 Games is one Nick Bitel.

A high-flying lawyer, Bitel is currently chief executive of London Marathon and an ardent athletics fan. He also happens to be a West Ham supporter.

insidelines@independent.co.uk

Sport
Louis van Gaal and Arsene Wenger
footballLIVE: All the latest from today's Premier League matches
News
newsNew images splice vintage WWII photos with modern-day setting
Arts and Entertainment
The star dances on a balcony in the video
music
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines