The Ryan Review #1 – Snooker Lives Matter

Hello and welcome to the brand new weekly feature on Severn Sport, The Ryan Review. The premise of the feature is to give my take on a news story that has been catching my eye, or events that I feel need to be discussed at greater lengths. Basically a feature that allows me to give my views and opinions on current sporting events, keeping me busy as we approach the festive period. A period in which we all know sees sport reach fever pitch, whether it be the last big boxing fight of the year, the traditional Christmas football, the PDC and BDO World Darts Championship as well as today’s topic of conversations, the UK Championship Snooker and Master events and the annual BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.

My review this week ties together those last two, as I am making a bold statement. A statement that reads as I truly believe Mark Selby should be at least in contention for BBC Sports Personality of the Year. I say this after snooker legend and beaten finalist in this year’s UK Championship Ronnie O’Sullivan came out during the tournament and said that he felt
“Snooker is becoming a nothing-type sport – it’s kind of like a car boot sale but with the other sports it’s like shopping at Harrods,” this was after the nominations for this years Sports Personality of the Year were announced and once again snooker was given an unfair omission once again. The reality of it all being really that snooker has more money both through commercial income as well as prize money offered to the players than it ever has done. There are more ranking events and opportunities for players to showcase their talents and ultimately earn more.

O’Sullivan went on to say that “they give it (snooker) like 10 seconds on BBC Sports Personality – it’s a complete insult to the sport but it’s what they think of it and what they believe it warrants, and that says it all really.” And he is right. The BBC pride themselves on being the home of snooker on mainstream television yet when the time comes to honour those players who travel from Birmingham to Beijing, from Beijing to Budapest all the way back to the Barbican Centre in York for the UK Championships at the end of the calendar year and for what? To be shunned by the media outlet who try to promote their snooker coverage as being groundbreaking? It is a catastrophe that this once great sport is being taken advantage of. The fact the BBC yet again fail to represent the sport they claim to support is not a surprise anymore. No wonder we now find World Snooker selling off tournament TV rights to lesser viewed broadcasters Eurosport and ITV – and even then it ends up being turfed out to ITV2 or worse, ITV4 in between Taggart re-runs.


The Jester from Leicester has spent a total of 1404 days as world number one, spread over 6 different spells at the top

Now I know that the Sports Personality of the Year award is always hotly contested and its hard to get a nomination, whoever you are but I hate the line up when it is an Olympic year because you tend to find silver or bronze medalists who work four years or more to fail to win their sport. It may sound bitter but come off it? In sport the hardest thing to do is not win but to keep on winning, tournament upon tournament, year upon year, no matter where in the world you are you need to be able to produce the goods on a consistent basis through the calendar year to be recognised. For example, Andy Murray will probably be the winner of this years trophy once again due to the fact he has won major tournaments, become World Number One which is no mean feat with the players in the sport that currently ply their trade in professional tennis.

So on that basis this brings me to Mark Selby. The UK Champion once again after defeating one of the best players to ever pick up a cue in Ronnie O’Sullivan at the weekend, the current World Champion and the man who has been World Number One in his sport for the last 664 days and counting. Since topping the rankings in February 2015 for the 6th time since 2011 he has now over looked the world of snooker from his position for two UK Championship tournament, two World Championship tournaments, two full snooker seasons and a Masters tournament amongst other major events. He has amassed more ranking points and prize money than anyone in the game, he has won the major titles frequently and has also maintained and looked after his family away from the table. Just look at the rankings for the last few seasons and you can see that Mark Selby has been the best snooker player every year since the 2011/12 season and if he can finish number one until the end of the 2016/17 season then it will be his sixth season in a row finishing number one in the world. An achievement the greats like O’Sullivan, Mark Williams or John Higgins have never even been near to achieving. In fact, even at his current 5 years in a row Selby is only surpassed by Ray Reardon (6 years, 1974-1980), Steve Davis (7 years 1982-1989) and Stephen Hendry (8 years 1989-1997) and those three players are regarded by most as three of the best players ever, they are players who will make most snooker fans top 10 players of all time if not their top 5.

On Sunday night Mark Selby became only the sixth player to ever win the Triple Crown twice. The Triple Crown being the World Championship, UK Championship and The Masters, and has become the first player in 12 years to win both the World and UK Championships in the same calendar year. Yet I feel the timing of the announcement of nominees for this years Sports Personality of the Year hindered the chances of any snooker player making the list. On the face of it I do see it as unfair on snooker players, each year the UK Championship is the last major snooker tournament before Christmas yet the nominees are announced part way through the tournament? If the BBC really cared about snooker as one of they’re prized sports then they should surely be aware of the dates that the tournament runs, so surely it isn’t hard to put back the announcement of the shortlist a matter of days to allow snooker to fully be included in the process of finding the Sports Personality of the Year? Apparently it is harder than even I thought. A lot of the nominated sports men and women had finished their seasons or accomplishments by the end of October/November bar Lewis Hamilton in the F1 and the BBC don’t even show that anymore!

For me, someone at the BBC needs to step back and start giving snooker the respect it deserves, especially when celebrating the talents and achievements of British players. Out of the current top 10 players in World Snooker 8 are British. In a world where we see sports get slagged off week in, week out for not producing young British talent when we actually have a sport doing so it is overlooked by the broadcaster who claims to give snooker the exposure it deserves. The exposure but not the respect.

Ryan Butler

Twitter: @abacon Buttee

The 2017 Dafabet Masters gets underway on Sunday 15th January 2017 at the Alexandra Palace, London. The draw was made last week and is as follows:

Ronnie O’Sullivan vs Liang Wenbo
Neil Robertson vs Ali Carter
Judd Trump vs Marco Fu
John Higgins vs Mark Allen
Stuart Bingham vs Joe Perry
Ding Junhui vs Kyren Wilson
Shaun Murphy vs Barry Hawkins
Mark Selby vs Mark Williams