Snooker: Hearn's ambitious plans get go-ahead

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The Independent Online

Barry Hearn was yesterday handed control of World Snooker after claiming a narrow victory in a vote of the sport's top 64 players.

The veteran promoter, through his Matchroom Sport business, will take a 51 per cent controlling stake in the commercial business, which will now be separated from the regulatory body, the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association.

Hearn believes he can return snooker to the levels of popularity it enjoyed in the mid-1980s, and has promised higher prize-money, greater television exposure and more tournaments.

Until the former Olympic shooter and businessman John Davison came forward with a rival bid last week, Hearn looked certain to get the go-ahead. However, Davison's proposal meant the final vote was tight, with Hearn prevailing by 35 to 29 at a WPBSA extraordinary general meeting in Sheffield.

Hearn said: "I'm delighted by the outcome. I do not underestimate the challenges that lie ahead, but for the moment snooker is united and the future looks rosy. I owe the game a lot and I will make sure that I will be giving 100 per cent every day to bring it to the level at which it should be operating."

Davison, who competed in clay pigeon shooting at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, turned down an invitation to attend the EGM after claiming his bid was not being afforded the same platform as the proposal from Hearn.

He had support from several notable figures, including players Stephen Hendry, Ding Junhui and Peter Ebdon. However at a meeting of players which followed the recent World Championship, Hearn won over many who were initially sceptical about his plans, and Davison's run came too late.

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