World Snooker Championship 2018: Barry Hearn wants to 'name and shame' slow players

World Snooker Championship 2018: Barry Hearn wants to 'name and shame' slow players
World Snooker Championship 2018: Barry Hearn wants to 'name and shame' slow players

By Owen Phillips

BBC Sport at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield

Snooker to 'name & shame' slow players - Hearn
2018 World Championship
Venue: Crucible Theatre, Sheffield Dates: 21 April - 7 May
Coverage: Watch live across BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Red Button, Connected TV, the BBC Sport website and mobile app.

A "name-and-shame" approach to slow play will force players to speed up or face warnings and fines, says World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn.

Average shot times have been available this season, but Hearn says next season's results will be highlighted every three months.

He hopes it will help those on tour self-regulate and improve their speed.

"It gives the slowest players an opportunity to get their act together," Hearn said.

Hearn, who runs the financial side of the sport, said players had a duty to put on a show for the viewing public.

"It's clear we're in the entertainment business," Hearn said. "It's also quite clear that some players don't recognise that we're in the entertainment business.

"Whether or not the slower players are naturally slow, have got used to being slow, or are using it as a form of gamesmanship, I don't know."

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Ronnie O'Sullivan is the quickest player on tour with an average shot time (AST) of 16.99 seconds, with Thailand's Thepchaiya Un-Nooh second and Jack Lisowski, Judd Trump, Mark Williams and Mark Allen all in the top 10.

Former world champion Peter Ebdon (31.51 secs) is 129th on the list of 131, with Rod Lawler 130th (32.70 secs) and Lee Walker (34.41 secs) last.

"Of course there will be slow frames," Hearn said. "But when we're talking about average shot time it does balance itself out. We're not going to tap someone on the shoulder and say 'you're on the clock'.

"But we will look at their figures, their shot times, over a three-monthly period initially. If we feel at the end of the season that we need to incorporate this in the rules of play, then we'll take that decision then.

"We cannot understand why 30 seconds should ever be extended and when it is, frankly, it is as boring as hell. There's a movement towards a level of entertainment we expect."

Feeding your family

Hearn also said prize money is increasing across the board.

Next year's world champion will earn £500,000, but the main focus is to increase the pot for lower-ranked players.

"We're going to make quite a few prize money changes next year," Hearn added. "But the concentration of those changes, other than at the World Championship, will be predominantly at the second-round and third-round loser stage.

"We are seeing the prize money going deeper into the 128 pros. I've got to let them feed themselves and their families, to make their lives not easy but a little bit easier."

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