World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn has vowed to clamp down on slow play in professional snooker by publishing average shot times and imposing potential sanctions on repeat offenders.
As of next season, World Snooker will publish quarterly reports listing players’ average shot times, with those exceeding 30 seconds at risk of being warned or even fined.
Currently, the Snooker Shoot-Out is the only ranking tournament to feature a shot-clock and while Hearn insists a shot-clock is unlikely to be introduced in other major events, he will actively monitor slow play.
“It’s quite clear we’re in the entertainment business and it’s also quite clear that some of the players don’t recognise we’re in the entertainment business.” said Hearn.
“Whether or not these slower players are naturally slow, have got used to being slow or are using it as a form of gamesmanship, I don’t know.
“But we’re going to run a system for the next 12 months and we will publish, some people will say ‘name and shame’ – the slowest players every three months.
“This will give them the opportunity to get their act together and realise we’re in the entertainment business.”
The world record for the longest frame in professional snooker history was broken a year ago by Fergal O’Brien and David Gilbert, who contested a gruelling two-hour, three-minute and 41 second frame in the World Championship qualifiers.
While Hearn refused to directly reference any current player who could face sanctions for slow play, he hopes the publishing of shot times will encourage those players to speed up their game.
“Of course there will be frames that are slow but when we’re talking about average shot time, it does balance itself out,” he added.
“Unlike Golf, we’re not going to tap someone on the shoulder and say ‘you’re on the clock’.
“We’re going to look at their shot times over a three-monthly period and if we feel at the end of the season that we need to incorporate this in the rules of play, then we will take that decision.
“We set ourselves a target and we cannot understand that over a long peroid of tournaments why 30 seconds should ever be consistently exceeded, but it is.
“And when it is, frankly, it’s nearly always boring as hell.”