World Snooker takes on WST moniker, plans new online platform

World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn talks to press ahead of the World Snooker Championships - by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

World Snooker, the commercial arm of the sport, has rebranded to World Snooker Tour (WST) stating its ambition to launch an “exciting new online platform” and double prize money over the next decade.

In 2010, World Snooker was taken over by the Matchroom Sport agency, chaired by Barry Hearn. During the 2009-10 season there were just six world ranking events and total prize money of £3.6m (€4.2m/$4.7m).

In its new guise, WST will oversee a professional circuit including 25 events and total prize money of £14.6m. A new logo and branding for the Tour have been created, which will be used going forward at all events and on all digital platforms, including the official website WST.tv.

Hearn said: “Our decision to relaunch as WST with fantastic new branding is part of our vision for snooker as we reflect on a decade of change and look forward to a bright future.

“Over the past 10 years we have exploited the massive popularity of our sport across the planet. We have created new events with lasting legacies and worked with broadcasters to bring snooker to an ever growing audience. We have modernised our sport, particularly through social media, to appeal to a young generation of fans, and our new branding reflects that.

“We have tripled prize money over the past decade, and looking ahead to the next 10 years I believe we can double it again, towards £30m. Rather than resting on our success, we have plans in place to continue our development with relentless ambition.”

World Snooker last month announced a 10-year deal with Saudi Arabia’s General Sports Authority for a lucrative new tournament to be hosted in the country from 2020. The inaugural Saudi Arabia Snooker Masters will take place in Riyadh from October 4-10, with total prize money of £2.5m.

In November, World Snooker furthered its efforts to promote the sport in India by agreeing a partnership with the India Business Group (IBG). As part of the collaboration, IBG will assist in the promotion of the Indian Open, an annual professional ranking tournament which was next due to take place in March. However, World Snooker was recently forced to postpone the event after failing to find a host city.

Hearn added today (Thursday): “Recently we announced a new event in Saudi Arabia which will set a new record for prize money for one event, and it is a 10 year deal with the intention to grow snooker at grass roots level in the region.

“As well as expansion into the Middle East we are pushing hard into India where we think there is enormous potential. North America, South America and Africa are also potential markets with a bright future. Soon we will announce plans for an exciting new online platform which will bring snooker to even more fans in every corner of the globe.”