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98-year snooker tradition could be SCRAPPED amid controversial plans to move World Championships to Saudi Arabia

SNOOKER’S 98-year-old World Championship trophy may be scrapped if the event leaves the Crucible — and the top prize could be £2MILLON.

Matchroom Sport president Barry Hearn has told Sheffield City Council he wants a bigger venue for the event by 2028.

The World Championship trophy could be axed after 98 years if the tournament heads abroad

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The World Championship trophy could be axed after 98 years if the tournament heads abroadCredit: PA
Barry Hearn has warned the Crucible must be improved in the coming years

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Barry Hearn has warned the Crucible must be improved in the coming yearsCredit: Getty

If that does not happen, he is ready to transport it overseas, with China and Saudi Arabia possible destinations.

The famous silver trophy was introduced to snooker in 1926 after it was bought by legendary Joe Davis for just £19.

But Hearn, 75, says if a mega-money backer came along and wanted to substitute it for a solid golden pot then that idea would not be dismissed.

He told talkSPORT: “That’s no problem with me — you can’t eat a trophy, son. Would I do that? Of course, of course.”

Hearn — whose company took over the running of the sport in 2010 — continued: “I’m fed up with people getting up on their Holy Grail horse and telling me the moral view.

“Ask the question to the top-16 snooker players in the world.

“Ask them, ‘If we made the prize money four or five times bigger than the Crucible, would you still want to play there for the money you’re getting today?’

“I’ll tell you the answer, as 16 out of 16 would say, ‘Where’s my airline ticket?’ It will always be the world championship wherever it is. If the World Snooker Tour say it’s the World Championship, trust me it will be.”

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The newly-crowned 2024 world champion on Monday night will get £500,000 with the runner-up getting £200,000. The 16 first–round losers earned £20,000.

But ambitious Hearn wants the champion’s slice to rival that seen in tennis and golf majors.

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He added: “£500,000 is not a lot of money in today’s world of sport. It’s not.

“To get credibility from the general and global public, an event has to come with a prize fund that makes you go, ‘Oh!’. It has to inspire kids.

“We should make first prize £2m minimum and every player making it to the Crucible should get a minimum £100,000.

“You can’t put a price on people changing their lives and their families’ lives forever.

“What’s enough? There’s no limit. You can’t go into sports promotion with a limit. Then you get complacent, and it gets sloppy.

“We are in chequebook land and sport globally is in that land, whether we like it or not.”

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