Snooker supremo Barry Hearn says: "the Crucible is past its sell-by date" in latest radio interview

Credit: George Wood/Getty ImagesCredit: George Wood/Getty Images
Credit: George Wood/Getty Images
This year’s Crucible extravaganza is over, but the discussion around the future home of the World Snooker Championship continues to provide a red-hot topic, with more fuel added to the fire after a recent Talksport Radio appearance from Barry Hearn.

The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield has been the prize destination for snooker’s blue riband event every year since 1977. However, with its contract to host the tournament expiring in 2027 - half a century on from its inaugural staging there - the intimate venue’s suitability in this new era has been brought into serious doubt, especially with reported interest from China and the Middle East.

Players, organisers, pundits and fans have all had their say on the subject in recent weeks, including Matchroom Sport President Barry Hearn who gave his latest thoughts as a guest on Jim White and Simon Jordan’s Talksport show on Wednesday morning.

The episode was held on location at the O2 Arena in London in preparation for the PDC Premier League Darts Finals Night to be held there on Thursday - another sporting empire that Hearn has built and enjoyed unrivalled success with down the years.

Having chatted over darts and boxing, before Hearn left, he was asked about the role that traditionalism had in modern sport, and in particular, how that related to the Crucible holding the World Snooker Championship in the future.

In response to White’s question, Hearn said: “We’ve got to live in the real world. The Crucible has been my life. My life changed in 1981 when Steve Davis won the world championship; a quantum moment. But there comes a time where people, things, businesses, become past their sell-by date.

“I mean, I looked in the mirror myself a few years ago and said ‘Bazza, you know, you’re not going to be here forever; you’ve got to be real’.

“The Crucible is past its sell-by date. Now, we love Sheffield. We have brought billions and billions of pounds of investment into Sheffield via China etc on the back of snooker, so we’ve played our part; not just the footfall - over 500 million people watched the world championship this year globally - that’s up there with Wimbledon.

“So what we’re saying is for the sport to be bigger, we’re going to be judged by prize money, so my job is to commercialise sport so that the players can see an escalation in prize money level and then have more chance to change their life through sport.

“The Crucible cannot cope with more than about 850 tickets. I could sell 5,000 tickets a session, I’ve got 40 sessions.

“It’s like the Olympics. I’m not a fan. I think it’s a wonderful achievement when they do it, but try and eat a medal. You’ve got a wife and family, I’ve got a gold medal - it’s your starting point, not the end, so in all sport, it does come down to money whether we like it or not.”

Prior to leaving the show, White re-asked his original question to Hearn of ‘Do traditionalism, sentimentality and iconography still have a place in sport?’ to which the 75-year-old answered: “They have a place, but it’s a small place.

“I’m numbers. I’m looking at numbers because my sportsmen and women look at me and if I don’t supply the prize money that they want, someone else will.”