Hearn pledges to implement 'radical' changes to snooker

Barry Hearn has pledged to give snooker the shake-up many of the sport's top players have demanded.

The promoter is poised to become the next chairman of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, after Rodney Walker was ousted from the position at the governing body's AGM.

Leading snooker stars such as world champion John Higgins and Crucible runner-up Shaun Murphy have been highly critical of the snooker authorities, bewildered by the fact there are only six ranking tournaments remaining on the calendar.

Six-time world champion Steve Davis, who is managed by Hearn, will offer advice on the way forward for the sport.

However, Hearn insists the big decisions must be his own, and he is backing himself to turn around the fortunes of a sport that once attracted huge television audiences and full houses at tournaments.

"I think there will be, by the World Championship, a radical rethink," said Hearn.

"It will involve bringing the game into 2010; we can't live on the back of the 1980s."

From his perspective on the fringes of the sport, Hearn has been dismayed by what he considers a lack of transparency in the running of the WPBSA and their commercial arm, World Snooker.

"From now on everything is in the open: good news, bad news, it will be honest news," he said.

Hearn, who is expected to overcome the minor obstacles to his being confirmed as chairman, has pledged to work with the new Snooker Players Association, who have been snubbed by the WPBSA to date.

He continued: "How can you not talk to people who are your best assets?"

"It comes the under category of 'very silly'. As long as it's honest, people will put up with that. Without the players, we have no business."

Essex-born Hearn, who formed the Matchroom stable of top players in the 1980s before enjoying huge success in boxing, insists he will not be afraid to make big decisions to raise the sport from its current doldrums.

He currently promotes snooker's Premier League, and will demand carte blanche in his plans for reform of the WPBSA.

"That's the only deal," Hearn said.

"We'll have a board of directors and we'll have board meetings - and we'll do what I want.

"If it doesn't work, I expect to be kicked out."

He has been delighted with the reaction to his emergence as the chairman-in-waiting.

"I've had a few wonderful phone calls," he explained. "One said: 'In the last five minutes, my enthusiasm for snooker has been reborn.'"

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