Originally published 27/11/2013
Barry Hearn has taken over as head of the main snooker organisation for 2 years now. He has done a fantastic job in turning the game around. When he took over there were seven tournaments on the yearly calendar but this season there are 30. You would think that level of increase would be good for snooker trading and betting but it seems to have had the reverse affect.
Last week saw a new event being unveiled; the Champion of Champions which was held in Coventry. The entire event was screened live on ITV4 (a major domestic UK television channel) for 6 days consecutively from 13:00 until 23:00. It showcased the top 16 in the world playing off for £100,000 first prize. There would be two ‘best of seven’ games in the afternoon with the winners playing against each other in a ‘best of 11’ match in the evening. The liquidity matched before the start of the afternoon session was just under £30,000. There was a marked improvement for the evening session game with the amount being matched just under £100,000 5 minutes before start time. There could be a number of reasons for this which I will now try and list.
Firstly, on weekdays, people generally do a lot more sports trading in the evening (with the exception of horse racing) as they have other priorities in the daytime. Secondly, and I feel this is the main reason, there has been a lot of bad press lately regarding match fixing in snooker and that has had a negative effect on the markets. People are cautious especially as a lot of the match fixing cases has been in the first round of tournaments. Therefore, it may be a case of people waiting until two players have won a match so they have more confidence that both players are trying and no one is going to get stung. Again, Barry Hearn has done a great job of stamping out the match fixing but I fear it will take a while to repair some of the damage that has been done. I would be very surprised if we hear of any high profile cases being brought to light in the very near future as the penalties are too severe and do not merit the rewards. Overall, the liquidity did increase as the tournament went on, especially in the Ronnie O’Sullivan games.
As a side note; I would avoid betting in early rounds of lesser tournaments that involve lower ranked players due to the fact there are large syndicates betting in the Asian markets and dubious games have been known to happen. These games are not usually priced on the exchanges.
Snooker has the same potential as tennis in the trading department, particularly with the new calendar
Personally, I think people are so used to the 3 big tournaments and these attract the largest pools of liquidity. These tournaments tend to see the markets improve, however snooker is still very much behind the curve compared to other sports. This is also reflected when you see the amount of live coverage in comparison. With the UK championships starting on BBC in December and the Masters in January, I am hoping some faith will be restored. Eurosport (a UK satellite channel) are covering all of the other events but for some reason people either do not know about these tournaments or are just not willing to risk there trading money. The liquidity on these tournaments is almost non existent which is difficult to understand as the players are playing for more money in some cases and more prestige. Traders and punters have also not transitioned over to the China events at all (five and counting out there this season).
It is a shame as Snooker has the same potential as tennis in the trading department, particularly with the new calendar. I hope people will see this and the liquidity will flourish and grow but it may take some time.
My last point is to highlight the juxtaposition of Barry Hearn’s main move into getting more sponsorship with the involvement of all of the bookmakers. They are the lead sponsors for every UK-based event. Most bookmakers broadcast the tournaments live through their sites and offer competitive in running prices on the majority of games (Bet365 is a standout firm in this department). If this business could just transfer to the exchanges, it would definitely expand.