Snooker in the desert? Barry Hearn says Qatar is interested in hosting the World Championship when Crucible deal expires in 2027… after the Gulf state staged the World Cup last year
- Crucible in Sheffield has hosted the World Snooker Championship since 1977
- The venue is loved by snooker fans but its 980-seat capacity is restrictive
- Current deal to stage the event expires in 2027 and Qatar want to follow them
Qatar is interested in hosting the World Snooker Championship when the Crucible’s deal to stage the event expires in 2027, according to Barry Hearn.
Having hosted the football World Cup last year, there’s a chance the Middle-East country might welcome snooker’s blue-riband event in the future.
Hearn, the former chairman of World Snooker, always maintained the tournament would never leave Sheffield while he was in charge.
The Crucible has been the venue since 1977 and is loved by snooker fans but its 980-seat capacity is restrictive.
Hearn hinted his son Eddie, who now runs Matchroom, might have a different vision for the sport as he sent out a message to the authorities in Sheffield.
Qatar is interested in hosting the World Snooker Championship, according to Barry Hearn
Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre has staged the blue-riband snooker event since 1977
Barry Hearn (left) has revealed the Qataris want to be in consideration to stage the event, with the decision falling to his son Eddie (right), who runs Matchroom
Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry play snooker in the desert in a famous promotional picture for the 1990 Dubai Duty Free Classic taken by the Daily Mail photographer Ted Blackbrow
‘Take the Crucible – the debate goes on,’ he told the Daily Telegraph. ‘980 seats. I am getting closer with Saudis on tournaments.
‘Qatar said to me last week, “What year does that World Snooker contract run out with Sheffield?” They asked me.
‘I said: “It’s 2027-28.” They replied: “Can we be in consideration? Can we have a say in it?”
‘They don’t have a snooker background. But it’s “if you want to do a nice big event, then we will put you in the mix.”
‘Who knows what is going to happen. I mean I have told them [Sheffield] what they got to do. I haven’t seen too much activity in that way.
‘We are part of the Sheffield development plan. But again I need a bit more juice on it.
‘I live in a world of people talking about things. In the world I like to operate in, it’s where people do things. They are in that process, I am not criticising them. Let’s hope it comes up.
‘We are in 2023. They have four to five years. But I don’t want it to be a decision made in four or five years.
Qatar hosted the football World Cup last year, despite its tiny size and population
The Crucible is limited by its capacity of just 980 seats with Hearn strongly hinting that a bigger venue is required if the tournament is to remain in Sheffield
‘I am a Sheffield fan, I want to stay here. But it might not be my decision. We’ll… it is not. I am the president non-executive.’
Hearn Snr said his son ‘isn’t a snooker fan’ but is ‘focused on global growth’.
Qatar was the controversial choice to host last year’s World Cup amid concerns over human rights and the treatment of migrant workers who built stadiums and infrastructure for the tournament.
The country hopes to use their experience of hosting that tournament to bid for the Olympics in 2036. A joint-bid with neighbouring Saudi Arabia is also a possibility.