Professional snooker is to set to return in the UK with a Championship League event which will take place at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes, north of London. The event, which will take place between 1st and 11th of June, will feature a field of 64 players, including reigning world champion Jedd Trump, who will be competing for total prize money in excess of 200,000.
It will be played behind closed doors, with no spectators admitted, and, in addition, a number of other safety measures will be in place to guard against the spread of the coronavirus. They include strict observe by players and match officials of the rules on social distancing, whilst, before matches, players must use anti-bacterial hand sanitisers. There will be no traditional handshakes between players and with the referee at the end of a match either.
In addition, all players, match officials, staff and contractors will be tested for Covid-19 before entering the venue, and will remain in isolation until the result of their match is known. No player who tests positive for the virus will be eligible to take part in the event.
The Marshall Arena has been specially selected as a venue because it has on-site accommodation. This makes it easy to keep all participants quarantined whilst they are still competing in the event, as well as enabling controls on who enters and leaves the complex to be strictly controlled.
Compared to many other sports, snooker does not suffer too greatly if it has to be played behind closed doors. The economics of the sport are such that the majority of the money generated from it comes from television rights and sponsorship, so the loss of spectator revenue is not significant.
And, whilst TV viewers may miss fans applauding spectacular shots, or one player who has made a significant break, the etiquette of the sport means that most of the time it is played in silence anyway to prevent a players concentration being disturbed.
For television companies starved of live action, meanwhile, the opportunity to be able to show a real tournament again is a godsend.