Monday, April 15, 2024

Stephen Hendry and Mark Allen question Saudi Arabia Snooker Masters’ ‘fourth major’ status

Stephen Hendry is not sure an event can be labelled a ‘major’ before being played (Picture: Getty Images)

The newly announced Saudi Arabia Snooker Masters has been dubbed the ‘fourth major’ by the powers that be, but Stephen Hendry and Mark Allen are not completely sold on that idea.

The new ranking event will join the calendar next season, being held in Riyadh from 31 August – 7 September and it boasts an eye-watering prize pot.

‘Over £2m’ will be dished out from the tournament, making it the second richest event in the sport, only behind the World Championship.

With the vast riches on offer, a 10-year deal being signed and all 128 tour players involved, World Snooker Tour labelled the Saudi event the ‘fourth major’ when it was announced on Tuesday, but Hendry would like to see it build up some history before it takes that tag.

The three ‘majors’ in the sport are considered to be the World Championship, Masters and UK Championship, with Hendry believing the Tour Championship would be the next in line to join those huge tournaments as the most elite in the game.

‘It’s fantastic for the players, fantastic news, a huge event,’ Hendry told the Snooker Club podcast. ‘Talks of a fourth major might be premature, the tournament has not even been played yet.

‘I think majors need to have been around. That’s why [I say] the Tour Championship, because it’s been around for a few years now, it’s become this huge event for players to play long-frame matches.

‘But there’s no doubt that this is going to be a huge thing for snooker. A 10-year deal, first prize around half a million pounds.’

Mark Allen has welcomed the addition of the Saudi event (Picture: Getty Images)

World number three Allen is also not sure on the ‘major’ status, telling Belfast Live: ‘You don’t want to be seen to throw money at something then it becomes a major and it’s history.

‘Events itself create history. There’s a long way go. I think the players would look at the Triple Crown as being a long way ahead of it.’

Allen will be playing at the upcoming non-ranking Riyadh Season World Masters of Snooker in March, featuring the top eight players in the word plus two wildcards.

He is delighted with the big-money events being added to the calendar, hoping that they could see further expansion for the game in the Middle East.

‘The money sounds amazing,’ he said. ‘Let’s not sugar-coat it, we want to win tournaments, but we have to pay bills and want to earn money.

‘You never know what it could lead to in the region with the likes of Dubai and places like that. It’s a massive step in the right direction.’

The opportunity for huge financial gains has unsurprisingly gone down well with players, with the top prize expected to be around £500,000.

Four-time world champion John Higgins certainly is seeing the new event as a major, suggesting it is close to the World Championship thanks to the prize fund.

‘If you introduce that sort of prize fund to the tour, we will be looking at it on a par with the World Championship,’ said the Wizard of Wishaw. ‘As a snooker player it’s all about maximising your earning potential. Everyone will be gunning for that top prize.

‘One of my first tournaments away was in Dubai in 1994. At that time we thought snooker would get big in the Middle East. It has been a long time since then. But hopefully now it’s here to stay because this deal is for ten years. I’ll have to keep playing until I’m nearly 60 to enjoy it!’


MORE : Ronnie O’Sullivan rates Mark Selby’s World Championship chances after shock Welsh Open loss


MORE : Anthony McGill: ‘I just hate the way I play snooker’

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