All 130 professional snooker players will be guaranteed minimum earnings of £20,000 for the 2022/23 season following an announcement from WST.
A new initiative as of this season, aimed to offer players financial security during a difficult economic climate, will see an initial payment of £10,000 handed out to each player in September, as well as a further £10,000 in January.
The system is intended to benefit those at the lower end of the rankings, with players earning more than £20,000 in prize money over the season having their payment deducted from their overall total.
Several of the sport’s most prominent figures have led the calls for such a system in recent years, including World Champions Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins and Judd Trump.
At present, all players currently ranked below 70 have earned less than £40,000 in prize money over a two-year period.
Steve Dawson, who replaced Barry Hearn as WST Chairman last year, said: “We are delighted to join forces with the WPBSA and its players organisation to fund this new programme. We recognise that these are tough times for many people given the cost of living crisis and that a £20,000 guarantee provides an important level of reassurance for many players who need to plan and prepare for life on tour.
“The top stars on our tour earn vast sums, in fact three years ago we saw Judd Trump become the first player to earn £1 million in prize money in a single season. But we recognise that further down the rankings, there are no guarantees. We have brought in this new system to support the many talented players who may need a level of security to fund their snooker careers.
“Before Matchroom took control of the sport in 2010, overall prize money had sunk as low as £3.5 million and all players had to pay around £5,000 a year in entry fees. We have since scrapped entry fees and the prize money levels are far higher.
“Due to the pandemic, we have not been able to stage ranking events in China since 2019, which has adversely affected our tour. But we will return to China as soon as restrictions are reduced, and we are striving to create new events, as we have done with the British Open, Turkish Masters, Hong Kong Masters and World Mixed Doubles.”
WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson added: “This new initiative is a fundamental shift in the way we are underpinning the future of our sport. This clearly shows the importance of our new structure at the WPBSA where players are represented and listened to through their own WPBSA players body, and I would like to thank the WPBSA players board for their support.
“In addition, this demonstrates the value of becoming a World Snooker Tour card holder where we take talent retention and the welfare of our players seriously.”
The WST calendar has been decimated by ongoing travel restrictions in Asia, with the China Open, Shanghai Masters, International Championship, China Championship and Six Reds Championship among the events postponed since 2019.
UK-based tournaments such as the British Open, WST Pro Series and an extended version of the Championship League have been added to the calendar since 2020, but there remains a significant shortfall of events, which has led to frustration among a number of tour players.
The new system, open to all 130 tour players, will run this season on a trial basis before the decision is made whether to continue next season.
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