• Quote: ‘It is like the tournament takes great pleasure in kicking me in the nuts’ – World Snooker Chief Barry Hearn

By Andrew Atkinson

Barry Hearn has confirmed the ‘Tier-Four’ restrictions in the UK will mean the Masters Snooker at Alexander Palace during January 12-19 will be behind closed doors.

“It is a mess. The Masters was all systems go – suddenly now, realistically, we have a problem,” said World Snooker chief Hearn.

The latest coronavirus outbreak situation comes on the back of the World Championship in August – and the PDC darts in December – both played behind closed doors.

“We lost £2.5m at the Crucible,£4m at the darts, and the Masters £750,000,” revealed Hearn.

A capacity audience of 1,000 per session was scheduled at the Masters.

On COVID-19, Hearn said: “It is like this whole thing is taking great pleasure in kicking me in the nuts.

“Every time I spend a load of money, there is no payback. We had the snooker at the Crucible, but just half a day before the government changed their minds on crowds.

“The darts, all of a sudden after one day with live crowds – gone. These things cost a lot of money.

“Even if we come out of whatever tier we are in now, which they are making up as they go along, I have to make decisions about things like tiered seating at ‘Ally Pally’, under covid-rules.

“We don’t get any payment from the government, even as a pilot scheme. I’m not moaning, just stating a fact.

“Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State, said we can continue to put on professional tournaments behind closed doors. “How quickly we return to any kind of normality with the crowds I don’t know. “I am thinking that perhaps it will be the Crucible for the World Championships in April.”