Phil Haigh ✍️
Ronnie O’Sullivan has suggested giving five per cent of prize money from the main World Snooker Tour to the women’s tour, a suggestion that Neil Robertson has backed.
The female stars of the baize were on show over the weekend in the World Mixed Doubles, as Robertson and Mink Nutcharut lifted the title, seeing off the teams of Mark Selby and Rebecca Kenna, O’Sullivan and Reanne Evans and Judd Trump and Ng On Yee.
The winning team won £30,000 each for their efforts, with even the third and fourth-placed pairs getting £10,000 each, which puts the prize money on the women’s tour into perspective.
Evans, a 12-time women’s world champion, says the most she has ever won from a women’s event is £6,000 and O’Sullivan wants to see that increase significantly.
While the quartet of women in action over the weekend play on the main WST, there remains a women’s tour which they also compete on and the Rocket hopes the separate tour can grow in stature, with the help of more money handed over from the main tour.
‘It’s not this tournament that matters, it’s what happens after this tournament,’ the world champion told the BBC at the World Mixed Doubles. ‘I think women don’t need us, they can make a big noise themselves. Of course this is a good start for them. But they can do much better.
‘The woman next to me (Evans) is a person who dedicates her life to snooker. She has won 12 World Championships. Women need to play on much better terms, for much better money. I think five per cent of the main tour prizes should go directly to women.’
Robertson backed O’Sullivan’s plan and said he would be happier to take home smaller prizes for winning main tour events in order to see the women’s tour receive a boost.
‘I think the women have been brilliant this weekend,’ Robertson told The Metro. ‘Hopefully women’s sport can kick off, get some more sponsors, some more funding and they can start to play for really good prizes themselves. Even though the money is increasing, it is still very low so we want to see that increase.’
On O’Sullivan’s five per cent plan he added: ‘It wouldn’t bother me at all – I’m always up for stuff like that. I wouldn’t mind prize money coming off from the top and being filtered down elsewhere where the funds are maybe needed more.
‘World Snooker are doing a job with that, with this event especially. They are spreading the funds really well. I’m sure big improvements are on the horizon.’
It is fair to say that many players on the World Snooker Tour would not be keen to see any prize money taken away from their potential winnings.
The two-year ranking list shows that O’Sullivan has earned £1,041,000 over the last 24 months, while Robertson has earned £902,000 in prize money.
However, look at world number 69 Andy Hicks, for example, and those earnings have fallen to £49,000 over two years.
The top four women in the world do have the same earning opportunities as the male professionals on the main tour now, but it is a long game of catching up after playing on the women’s tour for years where they would often need to reach semi-finals of tournaments just to break even financially.
On Yee has won two matches on the main tour since turning pro last year, while Mink has won one in her first season on tour which began this year. The top women certainly can compete as professionals, but it will take time for them to bridge the gap in quality between the women’s and main tours on a consistent basis.
Mink was asked how she would spend by far the biggest windfall of her career at the World Mixed Doubles and movingly said: ‘I’ll give some to my family.’
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