Snooker: Ebdon revitalised

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PETER EBDON reached his first final since he won the Thailand Open in March 1997 by beating Northern Ireland's Joe Swail 6-3 in the British Open at Plymouth Pavilions. Stephen Hendry, the World Champion, and Ronnie O'Sullivan were meeting in the other semi-final last night.

The key frame in Ebdon's progress to 3-0 was the second. Swail scored first with 70 but Ebdon obtained the snooker he needed and fluked the penultimate red to start the 43 clearance which enabled him to snatch the frame by a point. He also led 5-1 but Swail took the next two frames with breaks of 87 and 50 before Ebdon secured victory with a run of 129.

Ebdon's 5-2 quarter-final victory over Steve Davis ended the former champion's recent resurgence. "The best start to a season I've made for 10 years," was a remarkable effort from this reluctant politician who is at the centre of the latest battle of snooker's interminable civil war.

Davis, Dennis Taylor, the 1985 world champion, and Jason Ferguson, the world No 50, were outvoted 4-3 in the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association boardroom on the dismissal of Peter Middleton, who had been appointed chief executive only nine weeks earlier. The trio immediately initiated an EGM to remove Rex Williams, the governing body's chairman and his ally, Bob Close. Close and Williams's two other board supporters, Ray Reardon and Jim McMahon, requisitioned an EGM to remove Davis, Taylor and Ferguson. The EGMs will be on 27 September in Preston.

Middleton, who is also chairman of the Football League and a former chief executive of Lloyd's of London and was engaged for two days a week at pounds 50,000 a year, travelled to Plymouth last week to explain to the players how his relationship with Williams had disintegrated: "I was told not to make any appointments, and the finance director, Nigel Wren, was instructed to tell me that I was not allowed to see any figures, which is a tad unusual for a chief executive."

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