World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn’s controversial proposal to hand Steve Davis a tour wild card for next season has support from within the sport.
The six-time world champion lost early in qualifying for this year’s Crucible tournament, which begins today, and has fallen outside the top 64 in the money list, meaning he is due to drop out of the paid ranks this summer.
Hearn, who has always insisted snooker should be a meritocracy under his leadership, could authorise a move to give Davis an exemption because he considers the 56-year-old an “exceptional” case.
Jimmy White, who also failed to qualify for the World Championship, could join Davis in dropping out of the top 64, depending on results of others at the Crucible. He, too, could be offered a wild card.
Hearn said: “It’s a tough call, it represents a 360-degree turn in my normal decision-making process. But I’ve got to be flexible when common sense comes into play and it’s causing me sleepless nights.
“It’s a very difficult call and something I’m going to be thinking about over the next few days to see if I’ve opened a can of worms or whether it would be wrong of me not to repay those players’ loyalty to the game by making an exception.”
Davis lost to Craig Steadman in the second round of qualifying but there were moments where the player who dominated snooker in the 1980s showed his finesse.
Hearn, who has been a long time friend and agent of Davis, will run his plan past fellow World Snooker board members.
“Steve’s my best mate so straight away I can’t vote, I’m biased,” said Hearn. “Sometimes there are exceptional circumstances and you have to make exceptional decisions. I think it’s something Steve has to think about – what does he want out of his life?”