Fans behind the eight ball over snooker tournament

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 August, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 August, 2003, 12:00am

They accuse organisers of failing to promote the star-studded event

The Hong Kong Billiard and Snooker Control Council yesterday defended its promotion and ticketing arrangements for the Euro-Asia Snooker Master's Challenge following complaints by fans about the event's lack of promotion.

The council's chairman, Arthur Tong, said almost 80 per cent of the 4,400 tickets to the star-studded four-day tournament - part of the government's post-Sars relaunch campaign - had been made available to the public.

'We saw what happened about the Real Madrid game and wanted to make sure we wouldn't commit the same mistake,'' Mr Tong said. 'That's why we've made the ticket sales as open as possible and left only very few tickets for internal purchases by our members.''

The Hong Kong Football Association came under fire this month for reserving almost half of the 40,000 tickets for the Real Madrid game for internal purchases.

However, many local snooker fans complained that they had not heard about the championship, which begins on Thursday at the Convention and Exhibition Centre and features the likes of current world No1 Mark Williams, local wonder-kid Marco Fu and former world champions Jimmy White and Stephen Hendry.

Cheng Chi-man, who plays snooker at least three nights a week, said he was shocked by the news. 'I haven't heard anything about this tournament until you told me,' he said. 'I haven't seen any poster about it and I am pretty sure none of my friends know anything about it as nobody has mentioned anything.

'I think the organisers are doing a very poor job in terms of publicity. I will try to get tickets later today but if there are really only 200 tickets left as you've said, then I probably won't be able to get it.'

Snooker fan Andrew Ko Cheuk-yin also complained about the event's lack of promotion. 'I haven't seen a single poster or advertisement about it at all,'' said Mr Ko, 26.

'It is ridiculous considering that over the past few months I have heard so much news about the football matches involving Liverpool and Real Madrid, and the arrival of Yao Ming.

'I am a big Jimmy White fan and now it looks like I won't get to see him play.'

Calls to several billiard centres revealed that the council did not begin distributing promotional material until late last week.

Staff at both the Century Snooker Association in Causeway Bay and East Asia Snooker City in Tsim Sha Tsui said they displayed the tournament's posters immediately after receiving them on Friday - almost one week after tickets went on sale on August 9.

A spokesman at Sunna Association Recreation in Kwai Hing said it had not been told of the tournament.

But Mr Tong attributed the lack of printed material to the delay in securing sponsorship and denied it had caused a negative impact on the event.