Snooker star says players have ‘got no money’ and almost quit to be a pilot

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Snooker star Ali Carter has criticised the scarce funds available for top players in the sport this year, having also admitted to nearly quitting the game in order to pursue a career in aviation. The two-time World Snooker Championship finalist explained how the majority of players on tour “have got no money” and urged for a cash injection into snooker.

Carter lifted a lid earlier this year on how few snooker players are making a “good living” after the World Snooker Tour introduced a ‘safety net’ aimed at financially supporting the top 130 players in the 2022/23 season. The WST announced that players would receive a guaranteed £20,000 to help fund their careers and cover expenses, but Carter has insisted that more work needs to be done.

“It’s been really tough. Maybe 90 per cent of players on the tour have got no money,” Carter told the BBC’s Framed Podcast several months ago. “I think the tour should probably be cut, to give a prize that if you do get your tour card, you are guaranteed a living, a good living.

“They’re earning nothing, 20 grand a year, 30 grand a year after expenses, maybe less than that. You could go and get a job stacking a shelf in a supermarket [for that], no disrespect to anyone who does that. But these boys have put their life into playing snooker from a very young age, so it just seems a little bit unfair to me, that’s all.”

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As the WST looks to support their top players, they released a statement which read: “Our tour is about meritocracy. We have an abundance of talent from many different countries around the globe, the strength in depth on our tour is incredible. There are opportunities for all of them and there are huge rewards for those that succeed.

“This season we brought in an initiative to provide a prize money guarantee to all tour players, ensuring that they have at least £20,000 over the season. This has given them the security of knowing that they have an income and they can budget their season around this.”

Carter considered quitting snooker twice as he opened up on how he nearly became a pilot, amid calls from the 43-year-old to increase the rewards for being a top snooker star. When asked if he had thought about retiring from the sport, Carter told Sporting Life: “Oh definitely.

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“I spoke to a good friend of mine Mike Rowland, who owns the Andrewsfield Flying School. I said: ‘I’ve had enough of this snooker lark, defeats hurt big time and I’m just punch drunk with it. I’ve just had enough of it and I’ll go and do something else. I might train and be a commercial pilot’.

“He said: ‘Mate, you’re best on the snooker table, you’re still good enough to win, you’re still good enough to earn a lot of money’. He told me that I didn’t want to be starting at the beginning in an aviation career at my age, there was plenty of time for that. I was 43, ranked about 20 in the world and as he said, I was only at 40 per cent power.

“He said to me, ‘If you can up it to 70 per cent power, let’s see what we can get out of it. You’re never going to be 100 per cent with the snooker, down the club eight hours a day, with everything else you’ve got going on in your life. But if you apply yourself a little bit more, let’s see’.”

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