Snooker: Murphy starts new journey as old era goes up in smoke

Shaun Murphy's World Championship win over Matthew Stevens late on Monday night brought one era of snooker to a close and opened another.

Gone forever is the lucrative sponsorship of tobacco companies, most notably Embassy, which invested £23m in snooker during a 30-year association. In its place, there is financial uncertainty, underpinned by a governing body's chronic inability to exploit the game's huge commercial potential.

The paradox is that snooker has rarely had such strength in depth in terms of talented hopefuls who are capable of winning ranking events.

Murphy, 22, is one of them, and will no doubt continue his climb up the world rankings, in which he leapt from No 48 to No 21 yesterday. Another reward for Monday's win is that he will be seeded No 2 for every event next season, increasing his chances of success.

Stephen Maguire, 24, the new world No 3, is another name you should expect to win a world title. If he had not had the misfortune of being drawn against Ronnie O'Sullivan in the opening round this year, he might already have done so. O'Sullivan himself could and should dominate for years to come, but whether he chooses to play on remains to be seen.

Then there's Ding Jun Hui, the world No 62 from Shanghai, who celebrated turning 18 last month with victory in the China Open in front of a partisan television audience of more than 100 million people.

Ding's popularity, and indeed snooker's enormous potential in Asia, will be explored further next season when a series of three major events is staged in China, Thailand and Macau by World Snooker, the governing body. That is a step in the right direction, but is belated and by no means a replacement for positive action to grow the game in Britain and elsewhere.

It is remarkable that such a popular sport - No 2 in Britain only to football in the amount of hours of annual television coverage - should be scraping around to attract cash. Certainly, the audience is greying, which in itself needs to be addressed. But millions still watch events throughout the year, on terrestrial and satellite television stations. And if the governing body needs to look towards Saga or Zimmer or Viagra to pep up its income, so be it.

The search in earnest for a new sponsor will start once the BBC has signed a new deal to screen the World Championship up to 2010, which is imminent.

Murphy, the first qualifier to reach a world final since Terry Griffiths in 1979, became the second-youngest player, after Stephen Hendry, to win one.

Yesterday, after a quiet night celebrating with family and friends, he was simply looking forward to spending his £250,000 prize, which will go on his July wedding to fiancée Clare, and also on a new Mercedes.

He also wants to build on his achievement. He said: "[Winning] is the end of a long journey but also the start of a new journey. As a kid all I wanted to be was world champion. It's incredible to be world champion. Now I'll strive to be the next world No 1."

Life and Style
love + sex
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
News
people
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
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: Junior IT Support Technician

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Junior IT Support Technician ...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service Engineer - Doors / Windows

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This specialist designer and ma...

Recruitment Genius: Systems Developer

£26000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A market leading provider of tu...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - OTE £30,000+

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn