Snooker: Finalists too high to fly
Snooker finds sponsor with deep pockets
How did that happen?
Thursday January 19, 2006
The world championship, snooker's premier event, has secured a sponsorship deal with 888.com, the online casino. It will now be called the 888.com World Snooker Championship
Who were the key players?
International sports marketing company IMG/TWI, World Snooker's commercial director Nicky Fuller and 888.com's chief executive John Anderson.
What's it worth?
Both sides refuse to elaborate on the exact figures involved but disclose that it is a "multimillion-pound, five-year deal."
What swung it?
Embassy, who had sponsored the competition from 1976, was forced to pull its backing after the introduction of the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act 2002, although the tournament was given special dispensation until 2005 from the European Union because it is a "global event". The five-year broadcast contract extension recently agreed with the BBC guarantees 888.com a minimum of 130 hours of terrestrial television coverage each year. 888.com is an associate sponsor of the Masters, Grand Prix and UK Championship.
After the end of their sponsorship of Premier League Darts, 888.com looks to have secured wide TV exposure - the 2005 world championship final was watched by a peak audience figure of 7.8m. Many players believed snooker would not survive without the financial backing of the tobacco companies but concerns have now been alleviated.
What happens now?
Eurosport beams coverage of the finals to 51 countries, ensuring snooker's profile continues to grow. China is the biggest growth region and World Snooker now has a Beijing office.
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