Barry Hearn would buy Crucible Theatre to keep World Snooker Championship in Sheffield

Barry Hearn

Barry Hearn (Picture: Getty Images )

World Snooker Tour chairman Barry Hearn says he would buy the Crucible Theatre if needs be, to keep the World Snooker Championship at its traditional Sheffield home.

The venue has staged the World Championship since 1977 and hosted a reduced crowd over the weekend as Ronnie O’Sullivan beat Kyren Wilson 18-8 to win his sixth world title.

Hearn signed a 10-year deal to stay at the Crucible in 2017 and has regularly reaffirmed his commitment to the iconic building, however, the theatre industry is being hit hard by the coronavirus crisis.

Sheffield Theatres, the owners of the Crucible, have announced that up to 29 per cent of staff face redundancy and although no closures have been announced, it is a troubling time for the organisation.

However, Hearn would do everything in his power to keep the Crucible open and capable of hosting the World Snooker Championship. When asked if he would help out if required, the promoter was clear.

‘Well I mean it’s a lovely venue, I would buy it if you like. Of course,’ Hearn told Metro.co.uk.

Asked how much such a building would be going for, Barry said: ‘I would imagine very, very cheaply if they’re going out of business.’

Hearn doesn’t see it coming to this stage, though, and is confident that Sheffield Theatres will come through the immensely difficult time.

‘Listen, of course we would help, we’ve given a long-term commitment to this place already,’ Hearn continued.

‘We’re going to be here for 10 years, the Seniors is going to be here, it is a wonderful venue and part of snooker’s history.

‘We’ve already told them the dates we’re coming back next year. I don’t think there’s going to be any issue at all with the Crucible’s survival, but in the short-term, like a lot of people in this country, they’re going to suffer.

‘That’s unfortunately all part of COVID-19’s effect, but we’ll get through it.’

The newly crowned 2020 world champion has spoken of the importance of keeping the Crucible as the venue for snooker’s showpiece event, and looks like he has got his wish as he called for an entrepreneur to save it, if required.

‘You cannot get rid of the Crucible! It’s important we keep theatres going and this place is important,’ Ronnie O’Sullivan told the Sun.

TV OUT. ALL BROADCAST WEBSITES OUT. No cropping permitted. Picture must be credited to BBC. We are advised that videograbs should not be used more than 48 hours after the time of original transmission, without the consent of the copyright holder. Video grab taken from BBC Two of Ronnie O'Sullivan lifting the Betfred World Snooker Championship trophy during day seventeen of the Betfred World Snooker Championship at The Crucible, Sheffield. PA Photo. Issue date: Sunday August 16, 2020, 2020. See PA story SNOOKER World. Photo credit should read: BBC Two/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: Not for use more than 21 days after issue. You may use this picture without charge only for the purpose of publicising or reporting on current BBC programming, personnel or other BBC output or activity within 21 days of issue. Any use after that time MUST be cleared through BBC Picture Publicity. Please credit the image to the BBC and any named photographer or independent programme maker, as described in the caption.

O’Sullivan strolled to a sixth world title on Sunday evening (Picture: PA)

‘When I got an award off the Royal Family, Prince Philip said to me, “You play snooker? It’s the Crucible isn’t it?”

‘He doesn’t know me. He probably thought, “Who’s this f***ing piece of s*** in my house?” But he knows about the Crucible.

‘We need this place. Maybe an entrepreneur will come in, the Jeff Bezos of the UK, and have a bit of nostalgia for the Crucible and get this place open again. Place like this never die.’

The Crucible has hosted countless classic snooker moments (Picture: Getty Images )

During the World Championship the BBC showed ‘The Crucible: 40 Golden Snooker Years’ in which Hearn once again stated his commitment to the South Yorkshire theate.

‘On my tombstone, will not be written: “This is the man that took the World Championship away from the Crucible.”

‘It’s staying! And it don’t matter how much is involved and I have never said that once in my entire life.’

The veteran promoter has also confirmed that the plan for next year’s World Championship is to return to the traditional dates in April and May.

‘We’re planning to go back to our normal dates, April-May,’ he said.

‘We’re pretty well sold out for all sessions, people want to come to the Crucible.’

MORE: Ronnie O’Sullivan behind record-breaking World Snooker Championship viewing figures, says Barry Hearn

MORE: Barry Hearn agrees with Ronnie O’Sullivan’s ‘lose an arm and a leg’ comments

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