Bishop & Sewell

I rarely write about snooker, more’s the pity, but the recent 2024 World Championship raised several interesting talking points, writes David Little, a partner in our Corporate and Commercial department who increasingly handles Sports Law cases, too.

The players at this year’s World Snooker Championship noted that the pockets on the snooker tables appeared to be smaller than they are used to. The reviews from most players at the Crucible were that the pockets were ‘tighter’ than they have been in recent years and that was illustrated by the lack of big breaks over the tournament.

There were just 63 centuries this year, compared to 90 last time around, 109 in 2022 and 108 in 2021.

Amusingly, the former seven times winner, Stephen Hendry, who is now a commentator had little sympathy: There’s been a lot of talk about the tight pockets. I’m not out there playing, the players are playing so you’ve got to trust their opinions,’ he said. “But what happened to all the so-called best players in the world?” [They lost to the new, but little known, World Champion, Kyren Wilson, who played out of his skin, and made eight 100+ breaks in the Championship].

Without saying so overtly Hendry seemed to be saying professional snooker players aren’t quite as good as they used to be.

Despite the allure of big paydays, the world of professional snooker is relatively small compared to other sports. There are around 128 players on the World Snooker Tour, with only a fraction earning enough to sustain themselves solely through the sport. Many players juggle part-time jobs or coaching to supplement their income, highlighting the challenges of making it in this competitive arena.

Professional snooker players can earn substantial sums, but it’s a highly competitive field where only the elite few reach the upper echelons of earnings. At the top, players like Ronnie O’Sullivan and Shaun Murphy rake in millions through tournament winnings, sponsorships, and endorsements. However, for many professionals, earnings are more modest, with income often dependent on performance in tournaments and sponsorship deals.

Being a professional snooker player demands more than just skill at the table. It requires discipline, mental fortitude, and a relentless drive to succeed. Players spend countless hours practicing their shots, honing their technique, and mentally preparing for the pressures of tournament play. The lifestyle can be gruelling, with constant travel and time away from home adding to the demands of the game.

When it comes to prize money, the professional snooker circuit offers significant rewards for those who excel. Major tournaments like the World Championship and the UK Championship boast prize funds in the hundreds of thousands, with the winner taking home a substantial pot. However, lower-ranked events may offer more modest sums, requiring players to consistently perform well to make a living.

The pinnacle of professional snooker is undoubtedly the World Championship, held annually at the iconic Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, England. This prestigious event offers not only the coveted title of world champion but also substantial prize money. In recent years, the total prize fund for the World Championship has exceeded £2 million, with the winner walking away with a substantial portion of that sum.

Additionally, tournaments like the UK Championship, the Masters, and the China Open also boast significant prize pools, often reaching into the hundreds of thousands of pounds. These lucrative events not only provide a platform for players to showcase their skills on a global stage but also offer substantial financial rewards for those who can rise to the occasion.

A brief online search reveals that as at the end of last year the top ten richest professional snooker players based on lifetime winnings are:

  1. Ronnie O’Sullivan – Total Prize Winnings: Approximately £11.2 million
  2. Stephen Hendry – Total Prize Winnings: Approximately £9.5 million
  3. John Higgins – Total Prize Winnings: Approximately £8.3 million
  4. Mark Williams – Total Prize Winnings: Approximately £7.5 million
  5. Steve Davis – Total Prize Winnings: Approximately £6.2 million
  6. Mark Selby – Total Prize Winnings: Approximately £5.8 million
  7. Neil Robertson – Total Prize Winnings: Approximately £5.5 million
  8. Jimmy White – Total Prize Winnings: Approximately £5.1 million
  9. Ding Junhui – Total Prize Winnings: Approximately £4.8 million
  10. Shaun Murphy – Total Prize Winnings: Approximately £4.6 million


These figures are approximate and may vary slightly based on currency exchange rates and tournament winnings after December 31, 2023, but what it does show is that for the remaining 118 professionals currently on the circuit, breaking into the big time is incredibly hard.

Professional snooker offers both rewards and challenges for those who dare to compete. While the top players enjoy fame and fortune, many others navigate a more modest existence, fuelled mostly by their passion for the game.

Whether chasing glory on the green baize or grinding it out on the circuit, the world of professional snooker is as unpredictable as the bounce of a well-struck cue ball. And maybe Hendry, the second most successful player of the game of all time has a tip for today’s players. If you want to win, improve your accuracy, start practising on tables with smaller pockets.


Contact our Sports Law and Corporate & Commercial Solicitor

David Little is a Partner at Bishop & Sewell in our expert Corporate & Commercial team. If you would like to contact him, please quote Ref CB469 on either 07968 027343 or, 020 7631 4141 or email:

The above is accurate as at 31 May 2024. The information above may be subject to change.

The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Category: Blog, News | Date: 27th May 2024

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