Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre, synonymous with the World Snooker Championship, will continue to stage the event for at least another five years, until 2014, with an option to extend the contract to 2015.
The deal with World Snooker was due to run out next year, but a new deal has been agreed with Sheffield City Council to extend an association going back to 1977.
Chairman of World Snooker, Sir Rodney Walker, says: “Sheffield has, over the years, consistently demonstrated a genuine desire to retain and develop further its status as the UK’s snooker city. We acknowledge the enthusiasm and ongoing support Sheffield provides for the development and promotion of the sport, and are delighted to have reached this new agreement.” Sir Rodney had held talks with other interested parties in China where the sport is flourishing and Abu Dhabi is also thought to have been keen to take the event to the Middle East for the first time.
Leader of Sheffield City Council, Councillor Paul Scriven, says it is exciting news that the tournament is staying in the city. “Sheffield is the home of world snooker and we were determined that it stays here.
“With our partners, Welcome to Yorkshire (the new name for the Yorkshire Tourist Board – ed) and Yorkshire Forward, we have now ensured that Sheffield will continue to play a key role in the Betfred.com World Snooker Championship as it has done for more than three decades.”
Six-times World Champion Steve Davis endorsed the deal, saying he had “fantastic memories; it will always be a special place for me. I’ve always said that it would need a very good reason to move the event away from Sheffield. It’s the snooker city and everyone associates this event with the Crucible”.
Mark Allen, who knocked out Ronnie O’Sullivan out of this year’s tournament, adds: “I’ve only played here for the last three years but I absolutely love the place and couldn’t imagine this tournament being staged anywhere else. The atmosphere when I beat Ronnie was so intense and you could only get that at the Crucible.”
The Crucible is undergoing a major multi-million pound refurbishment programme. Sheffield’s links with the sport have resulted in the World Snooker Academy being based the English Institute of Sport in the city.