Snooker: D-day looms for Williams

Clive Everton feels the end of snooker's civil war may be near

SNOOKER'S BITTER and protracted civil war, which has already seen the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association chairman, Rex Williams, cling precariously to power at two Annual Meetings and one Extraordinary Meeting, seems to be heading for its climax.

Steve Davis, who has won six world titles, and another former champion, Dennis Taylor, lead the requisitionists of another EGM of the WPBSA calling for the removal of Williams and his staunch ally, Bob Close, from its seven-man board. The latest possible date for the meeting is early December. It was Davis, Taylor and the world No 50, Jason Ferguson who, last Monday morning at the Heathrow Hilton, were outvoted 4-3 as Williams, supported by Close, Jim McMahon and Ray Reardon, sacked Peter Middleton from the post of chief executive, to which he had been appointed only on 1 June.

It was eerily reminiscent of the outbreak of civil war on 1 December, 1997 when Williams, with three of his then six-man board against it, pushed through the dismissal of Jim McKenzie, whom he had warmly welcomed as chief executive only five months earlier. McKenzie's action for breach of contract was settled in his favour three days before it was due in the High Court.

For the moment Middleton is keeping his powder dry but this 59-year-old City high flyer, a former chief executive of Thomas Cook and Lloyd's of London, has already said: "I hope to have an opportunity to explain to the membership that I had things to say that certain board members didn't like."

Since last November Middleton has been chairman of the Football League. Barry Hearn, whose management of Davis helped raise snooker's profile immeasurably in the '80s, met him through sitting, as Leyton Orient's chairman, on one of the League committees. Hearn asked him if he could spare any time to help put WPBSA in better order. He brought Williams and Middleton together at the Crucible in April. Middleton was appointed on a part-time, two days a week basis.

Their relationship was soon in trouble. McKenzie had not shared Williams's high opinion of Martyn Blake, the company secretary, and Terry Crabb, the development manager. Nor, two years later, did Middleton. He negotiated their resignations. From that moment it was clear that Williams wanted Middleton out. The next scheduled board meeting was 19 August but late on Friday, 7 August faxes were dispatched to convene one for last Monday morning. The meeting was called without Middleton's knowledge. Williams had been expected to remain in Australia but flew back on the Saturday and returned to Australia after the meeting. Blake has been given his job back.

Contemplating the run up to the EGM, Hearn said: "There is bound to be scare-mongering again from the Williams side that I want to take the game over or Ian Doyle [the game's leading manager] does or we both do. I do not want this or anything remotely like it. The purpose of the scaremongering would be to take the edge of the real issue, which is mismanagement."

Despite eminently satisfactory viewing figures, the circuit has only one non-tobacco sponsor, Liverpool Victoria. Tobacco sponsorship, on which snooker heavily depends, must end by 2003. Only the Embassy World Championship has an extension to 2006. Thailand, one of the most enthusiastic of snooker nations, has refused to promote WPBSA events while the Williams regime remains. WPBSA's relations are at an all- time low with the International Billiards and Snooker Federation, the assembly of national associations, who are even refusing WPBSA's pounds 30,000 annual subsidy.

New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
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: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all