After days of confusion, and more than three months of patient waiting from 23rd March…
Snooker clubs in England have now got the official green light to re-open – provided they are Covid-19 compliant and secure.
If you’re in another part of the UK, the rules maybe slightly different and you may have to wait slightly longer.
The news comes as it was confirmed in Parliament that snooker clubs were always able to open on the 4th July, but the confusion lay around whether they were classed as indoor sports facilities, or social/entertainment clubs.
In a statement on the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association website, (WPBSA) it was confirmed.
In clarity, Nigel Huddleston MP (Mid Worcestershire), Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Sport, Tourism and Heritage at the Department for the DMCS said: “Sports and physical activity facilities play a crucial role in supporting adults and children to be active. Snooker clubs have been allowed to open since 4 July, as long as they can follow the COVID-secure guidelines.”
It comes as PM Boris Johnson announced the further easing of restrictions on the 23rd June which saw the Independence weekend with a big reopening of pubs, restaurants, cafes, hotels, campsites, and other venues.
However, other sectors such as the arts have not been allowed to reopen – yet.
Confusion now cleared up…
Some snooker clubs had already decided to re-open (without snooker tables in operation), following advice from their local health and safety executives, whereas others were patiently waiting for clarity from the government before re-opening the entirety of their business.
Clubs will be expected to undergo rigorous cleaning measures and engage in social distancing measures where appropriate.
For three months or more, fans and players have been finding inventive ways of keeping their cue arms going and some have been lucky enough to be able to isolate in their own snooker rooms. Coaches have been on hand helping players through online facilities such as Zoom calls and Facebook Live Q&As.
It must be said a BIG thank you to all the coaches who have been keeping players occupied and motivated during lockdown and providing much needed help in all aspects of the game.
The news comes as the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) confirmed in a statement that snooker was classed as an indoor sport and not a social club game.
It means fans won’t be enjoying a knock from this weekend as clubs were hoping to celebrate their own Independence weekend from the 4th.
Confusion over the status of snooker clubs…
Confusion erupted last week as PM Boris Johnson announced on the 23rd June that pubs, bars, restaurants and social clubs as well as other sectors could reopen their doors since the 23rd March when the UK government announced a nationwide lockdown due to Covid-19 taking a stranglehold on the UK..
Response by some clubs…
Some snooker clubs took the news on the chin as others had already been gearing up for a big reopening from the 4th July (Independence Day).
But there was huge disappointment all around.
It means social clubs can open their bars or food facilities but not the snooker tables.
One club wrote on Facebook regarding the news.
The Portland Snooker club said:
VERY IMPORTANT !!!!!!!!
Unfortunately we will NOT be able to open on Saturday or the near future as it has just been confirmed today that no indoor sports are allowed to be played. This is very disappointing and frustrating but out of our hands!
Until the government tell us otherwise it is out of our hands ☹️ anyone who has booked will get priority when we eventually get the green light!
Thanks for your patience and we will see you all soo🤞🏻
It was announced some parts of the leisure and tourism sectors could reopen from next month – months after the dramatic UK wide lockdown on 23rd March 2020.
PM Boris Johnson announced that pubs, social clubs, and other facilities could reopen from Saturday July 4th (US Independence Day) provided they were Covid-19 compliant and secure.
What now for snooker clubs?
However, snooker clubs were left dangling with owners not knowing exactly if they could reopen or not on the specified date and the WPBSA had to seek clarification on the status of snooker clubs and whether they came under the banner of social clubs, or indoor sports facilities.
Some were already putting strict cleaning measures in place for the re-opening.
No clear clarification has yet come from ministers…
However, in a further statement from the WPBSA, it seems there are still fuzzy messages coming from the government regarding whether snooker can be played again in social clubs following the date of July 4th.
The statement reads: “Having carefully studied the wording of the announcements made by the UK government earlier this week, it is clear that social clubs, including licensed premises, are able to re-open from 4th July 2020.
“However, what is not clear is whether the snooker facilities in these clubs can be used or not from this date. We are therefore continuing to seek urgent clarity on this point as we understand that clubs are reliant upon activity on the snooker tables in order to be sustainable.
Seek clarification from your local Health and Safety Executive, urge WPBSA…
The WPBSA are urging individual clubs to seek clarity from their local health and safety authorities who will be able to assess the risk and they then say it is up to individual clubs to decide if they open based on the guidance they have.
WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson said: “It is therefore extremely disappointing that we have not received clarity from the government to be able to advise clubs in England and the UK to be able to open safely at this stage.”
He added: “Every snooker club provides a vital community social hub and a place to engage in non-contact activity. We therefore would urge each individual club to seek local authority guidance prior to re-opening and in the meantime, we will continue to push for further information from the government to provide certainty during this time.”
So, the message is still unclear from top-down – for now. But it now lies in the hands of the clubs.
Seek clarification locally and then decide. It’s up to you.
Will snooker clubs get to celebrate their own independence day on July 4th and beyond?…
Prime minister Boris Johnson has announced that some parts of the hospitality and leisure sectors can start to re-open from next month as some snooker clubs are planning soon for the big re-opening – right now.
Over the last few days, there’s been much speculation as to what the Tory PM would announce about the next phase of the government’s re-opening plans.
Pubs, restaurants, hairdressers can all re-open, provided they are Covid secure and safe.
The 2 metres social distance rule is to be relaxed to 1 metre although the PM said that people should try to keep up to 2 metres if possible.
Snooker clubs were excited about the government nod to re-open in early July…But will they? A new statement from the WPBSA means they may have to wait a few days more for clarification.
Some snooker clubs on Facebook were clapping about the news that they are able to re-open next month as one club said from next week it would engage in a deep cleaning process straight away.
The Lincoln Snooker Club update read: “Looks like we will be opening on the 4th July. Next week will be spent deep cleaning and preparing the club for re-opening. New procedures will be in place. Allocated rests and regular sanitising of tables and equipment being one.
The post added: “Cannot wait to get started.”
New measures to be rigorously in place…
Many of the snooker club owners who said they were planning on re-opening before the announcement said they would plan to run a reduced capacity and would have full social distancing measures in place. Some also have urged customers to avoid paying in cash and to use contactless systems for payment.
Levels snooker club in Huddersfield, owned by Kevin Ellis, whom we’ve already featured on SnookerZone, said this of the news on the Levels social media page.
It wrote: “It’s official. Levels will re-open on the 4th July. Absolutely delighted that we will see you all again and get back to doing what we do best.”
Back with a Bang…
One snooker club, Dunstable will be holding a 32 Pro-Am on the 6th July as part of their weekend celebrations from the 4th, which is a Saturday.
Already signed up are players such as former World Champions Stuart Bingham, Mark Selby, and six times World finalist Jimmy White.
The owner Suny Singh said this: “The club will be completely disinfected with a fogging service every inch of it. Tables will have sanitiser sprays next to them.
Clubs have been shut for next to three months since the coronavirus pandemic took hold on the UK and the national government was forced to shut down a large part of the country to help stop the spread of the virus.
The economy went into hibernation.
During that time amateurs have been either practicing snooker on kitchen or dining room tables, or those lucky enough to have home tables have been self-isolating in their own snooker rooms!
Many of the clubs will be taking bookings online and are advising customers to be patient as they get to grips with the new measures and rules needed to be implemented to help keep staff and customers safe to enjoy their experience on the premises.
One club added they were looking forward to reopening their junior club scheme as soon as possible.
Those who can or will be back straight away – enjoy it!
UPDATE: Seeking clarification on the “status of snooker clubs”
Issued a day later, the WPBSA has made a statement regarding snooker clubs re-opening.
The WPBSA and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for snooker are working flat out to seek clarification on the exact guidelines and process for re-opening.
The short statement reads: “We are now seeking clarity as to the application of the announcements to snooker clubs and in the first instance will continue to liase directly with affiliated clubs through the 147 club scheme.”
It adds: “We understand the desire from fans and players of our sport to return to the baize as soon as possible. However, we will only be able to issue guidelines for the re-opening of clubs once it is safe to do so and with clear advice directly from the government.”
Here are a few points raised by SnookerZone, below.
But first, in business, the no 1 focus on success must be to serve the customers’ need.
In snooker terms, one simple way to find out what a snooker player/customer wants is simple.
You could do this by surveys either online or through paper, but the important thing is to ask what people want from a snooker club.
Not all ideas will be used, but it’s an excellent way to find out what is going on in the mind of a customer.
How to get more customers into snooker clubs to play.
In the webinar, Snookerzone had these suggestions.
1) Schools and PE lessons…
To get more kids in, what about snooker club owners asking around local schools, and organizing for one term of the year, trying out snooker in the PE lessons (with the permission of parents, teachers, and a supervised WPBSA coach?
When SnookerZone was at school, his school would organize specific alternatives to the set curricular sports where the local sports club would be booked to introduce the kids to a range of other sports, including gym, squash, badminton, and even golf!
Snooker should be no different.
Or if you can’t, bring two small Star tables or more in for a session and see how it goes.
It could work well with 147 clubs.
2) Snooker loyalty cards…
To get more people to come to clubs, what about a Tesco loyalty type card?
Each time a player goes back, give them points or rewards (with a certain number of visits ending in a bigger reward for that customer).
The professional tour player David Grace said that the Northern Snooker Centre, Leeds, where he has been a loyal member for years, had been doing that kind of offer, and it was an excellent idea.
One other point on loyalty cards.
It shouldn’t just be a reward for attendance. It should also not be just a run of the mill awards scheme for a FREE drink etc.
It could be for money off a new cue and case set, for example. Or money off future entry to a competition, etc.
The point is, the rewards offer should stand out.
It works for supermarkets, why not snooker clubs?
3) A welcoming atmosphere…
It stands to reason, but a business should be in the habit of making its customers feel welcome. Many snooker owners, who came on the webinar, said they were in the business of making their customers feel at home at their club.
4) Marketing and advertising the snooker clubs…
As a business owner, you are not a snooker club owner, you are in the business of marketing a snooker club as an owner.
You should be advertising the club and getting eyeballs on it as much as possible.
Highlighting the benefits of the club and the advantages of coming.
That means advertising your too good to refuse offer in…
Community billboards in the area
Snookerhub.co.uk can advertise your club for FREE
Word of mouth from other customers
5) Business swaps…
This one is a no brainer…
How about the owner contact a local business in their area, for example, a gym, and see if they can do a local business swap?
They then advertise each other’s businesses with a poster or banner and see if they can bring customers to each other’s business. The idea is not about sponsorship, it’s purely a collaboration of the local community so that people help each other out from time to time.
Given the current climate, that is for SnookerZone, a no brainer!
There’s enough to go around for everyone…
There’s lots more SnookerZone and indeed others could suggest re how to get more people into clubs, but this was just a flavour of the webinar last night.
It was a very insightful webinar listening to owners and what they were doing re their clubs.
We will no doubt revisit this again in the future.
Ellis further said: “We are a forward-thinking venue, with a number of ideas and exciting plans. Coaching, competitions, player development and management being just a few.”
He added: “Very exciting times ahead.”
Former professional Simon Bedford beat Leo Fernandez in the final and won the Pro-Am – bagging the £250 first prize.
The first ever winner at Levels said on Facebook after: “Over the moon to win pro-am at levels today👍 just wanna say a massive thanks to Kev EllisStuart Gothard and their staff for a warm welcome and hospitality 😁😁😁 .The club is looking different class and I’m sure it will be a massive success to everyone involved 🥂
See you all soon 😘.”
Ellis remarked also after: “Huge huge thanks to everybody who made the effort. All games were played in the best of spirits and the compliments on the venue and tables were flowing. Met and chatted with some top-notch folk. Thankyou again. Hopefully, see you at the next one!
Finalist Fernandez added: ” First class venue. Really lovely staff and obviously well done Simon Bedford. A class player and always has been… #goodtimes#lovesnooker😎👍.”