UK CHAMPIONSHIP snooker will return to York this year.
After overcoming what looked like insurmountable odds, World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn has confirmed the Barbican will once again stage the second biggest tournament in the game.
He said: “We’ve had a few months of soul searching, trials and tribulations and logistical exercises and a good amount of communication between everybody and I am pleased to say the UK Championship is staying in York.”
Hearn raised doubts over the future of the 13-day potting festival at the venue during the 2013 event, which concluded at the Fishergate centre last month, after a host of complaints from some of the world’s top players.
They griped about the tournament structure, which saw all 128 competitors descend on York for the first time, about the practice facilities, and the set up in the sports hall.
That led Hearn to state: “We know the venue is not right” and for rumours to emerge of a potential swap between York and Coventry’s Ricoh Arena, which staged the Champion of Champions tournament.
“That was our thought,” added Hearn. “Obviously the Ricoh is a bigger arena and there is more space but, you know, we have established something in York.
“We have got a good rapport with the people, with the organisation at the Barbican and it is a quality venue as well.
“If it is not broken, we don’t want to fix it. But we did have some logistical problems and the problems weren’t York’s fault.
“They were our fault - 128 players going in and all the tables and it took some time. Any journey is going to have some bumps in the road.
“We sat down with the players, the staff, the officials, we sat down with everyone and said ‘Is it possible? Can we stay there? Can we make it better?
“They all put their heads down and we talked about certain problems the players had brought up and what they didn’t like - such as the space between tables, the overlap of lights.
“We believe we have cured them and we have made a few changes. There won’t be any players seeded through with their matches carried forward onto TV.
“Everyone will play one round not on TV and then we will keep the four tables in the main arena.
“Logistically, we believe it now works. Once we were comfortable with the logistics, there was no choice about the venue.”
Some 7,000 tickets were sold for the last tournament, which was won by Australia’s Neil Robertson. The UK returned to York Barbican in 2011, after a gap of five years.
York Barbican's director of sales and marketing Tony Watson said: “We are delighted that the UK Snooker Championships is staying at York for another year.
"We are looking forward to working with World Snooker to deliver another top class UK Snooker Championships this Christmas.
"The competition has become an annual favourite at our venue, so it’s great that it will be coming back for round four!”