Ken Doherty urges snooker chiefs to keep World Championship at ‘sacred’ Crucible

Ken Doherty has urged snooker chiefs to think twice about tearing the World Championship away from the Crucible after the venue’s current deal expires on its 50th anniversary in 2027.

Doherty, who won the tournament in 1997, challenged Barry Hearn live on the BBC earlier this week after the former World Snooker Tour chairman insisted finance would be the exclusive factor in determining its future.

And the Irishman doubled down on his criticism of Hearn, insisting that the memories generated at the famous venue, which has staged the tournament every year since 1977, matter more than the lure of Saudi Arabian or Chinese cash.

“I’ve been coming here for a long time, I grew up watching it, and I’d hate to see it move,” Doherty told the PA news agency. “There’s something special about this place, something about all the great matches we’ve witnessed over the years, and I don’t think it’s something money should be able to buy.

“Barry has so many great memories himself of being here, when Steve (Davis) won his first title and you saw what it meant. An extra five or 10 million isn’t going to make any difference to Barry Hearn, but I think it would make a big difference to this Championship.”

World number one Ronnie O’Sullivan raised questions over the Crucible’s future in the build-up to this year’s tournament when he suggested the game’s authorities should pursue lucrative deals to stage it abroad.

And qualifier Hossein Vafaei also hit out after his first round loss to Judd Trump, describing the venue as “smelly”, and likening the practice facilities to playing in a garage.

Doherty, who has been widely praised for standing up to Hearn in the interview with presenter Hazel Irvine, concedes the venue does need modernising, but says accepting prospective offers from big-money backers in the Far East is not the answer.

“He (Hearn) was very forceful about the money side,” added Doherty. “It’s great what he’s done for snooker in such a short space of time – he’s given these players more tournaments and a lot of prize money.


“But trying to sell the World Championship is completely different. He’s a businessman, and I’m a snooker player who just loves this place, and everything it stands for. I don’t think it should be given to someone just because they’ve got the biggest cheque-book.

“These other countries can create their own history, their own tournaments, but the Crucible is very special. It should be sacred and you can’t buy sacred things.

“I love Barry Hearn, and he’s done a magnificent job. Snooker has to get bigger and better, and Barry and Matchroom are the perfect people to do that. But I just say, please Barry, don’t sell the World Championship.”


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