Live sport will return to free-to-air UK television for the first time when Championship League Snooker kicks off on ITV4 from June 1.
The likes of Judd Trump, Neil Robertson, Mark Allen and Kyren Wilson will be on air daily for 11 days in total from the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.
From June 1 to June 8, 16 groups of four players will compete in the initial phase, before all 16 group winners progress into four groups of four on June 9 and June 10, and finally a final group of four will decide the winner.
All matches will be best of four frames, culminating in the final group finishing on June 11 for the top prize of £30,000 and a place in this year’s Champion of Champions tournament.
Jill Douglas will front the coverage on ITV4, and commentators David Hendon, Phil Yates and Dominic Dale will be working the microphone from home.
All players, staff and contractors will be required to take Covid-19 tests and will need to provide a negative result to be allowed on site.
Announcing the news, Matchroom Sport Chairman Barry Hearn said: “During the challenging times of the past few weeks we have examined the opportunities which still exist and worked relentlessly towards the goal of getting our tour going again. While most other sports remain sidelined, we are ready to return from June 1st. This sends out a message to the sporting world that snooker is at the forefront of innovation.
“Our first priority has to be safety and we have had detailed discussions with government in creating a set of approved guidelines for the event which will be rigorously followed. We are making this very clear to the players and everyone working on the event.
“We will be the first major sport to get back to live televised action. That’s not by chance, it’s because of the hard work and preparation we have done during the lockdown to make sure we are ready to get going again as soon as it is legal.
“I am confident that there is no other major sport which can meet health and safety criteria on isolation and social distancing as stringently as snooker can, so we are able to return more quickly than others.
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“One of the reasons we have selected the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes is that accommodation is on site, which means that once players arrive for testing the night before they play, they don’t need to leave until their matches have finished, and they can remain isolated within the venue. It is a superb venue with ideal facilities.
“Championship League will provide 11 days of televised sport with extensive live coverage, from 3pm until 10pm each day. For the fans out there who are starved of live sport it will be a fantastic boost and a very welcome diversion from these tough times we are all going through.
“We are thrilled to be working with ITV on Championship League for the first time, with an exciting new format. The field of players and more details will be announced in the coming days.”
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