Mark Allen hails Barry Hearn on retirement: ‘He’s one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met’


Barry Hearn is moving into semi-retirement at 72 (Picture: Getty Images )

Mark Allen has paid a heartfelt tribute to Barry Hearn as he steps aside from his position as the head of World Snooker Tour, praising his unseen charity work, his ‘phenomenal’ efforts in developing snooker and his comedy value.

Hearn is moving into a role as group president of Matchroom Sport, available on an advisory basis, so this is not the last we will see of the legendary promoter, but he is stepping back from day-to-day work at 72-years-old.

Allen and Hearn have famously clashed in the past, with the Pistol fined for his comments about changes to the UK Championship in 2011, saying: ‘In the long run, he’ll probably do good for snooker, but not for my generation. It’s time to let someone else have a go.’

The Northern Irishman has rowed back from that opinion – although insists he was right about the move to shorten matches at the UK Championship – and is full of praise for Hearn’s work in snooker and his generosity outside the sport.

‘He’s been a revelation to the game,’ Allen said after his first round win at the World Snooker Championship over Lyu Haotian on Tuesday.

‘In 2010 we didn’t feel like snooker players, we were part-time, had months in between tournaments, now we’re complaining the other way, getting over-worked! It’s been an amazing turnaround.

‘The thing I would say about Barry that not a lot of people know about, considering me and him have had a few disagreements over the years, he’s been the first person to support every single charity event that I’ve done for the last 10 years. The first person on the phone to donate money, or donate whatever he can, he’ll be sadly missed.

Mark Allen with Barry Hearn at the 2014 Shanghai Masters (Picture: Getty Images)

‘He’s left the game in great hands, what they’ve done throughout this Covid year has been phenomenal, miles ahead of what any other sport has been able to produce and that’s testament to Barry and his team.

‘As much as I haven’t agreed with everything Barry has done, I’ve always appreciated what he brought to the game. He’s one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met.

‘Even the disagreement about the UK Championship changing to best of 11, I was right! It has detracted from the event, the UK is not as special as it used to be.

‘But on the whole Barry has done phenomenally well, he’s the best at what he does.

‘Pretty much everything he’s touched has turned to gold, the prize money has gone through the roof, it’s just phenomenal what he’s done.’

World number one Judd Trump joined in the praise on Twitter, writing: ‘Huge thanks to @BarryHearn for getting snooker out of a massive hole 10 years ago and getting us to where we are today.’

Barry Hearn said that his teams at WST and beyond have worked so impressively during the pandemic that it made the decision to step aside a simple one.

‘It was probably a decision that I knew was coming a year ago, I’m 73 in June!’ Hearn said. ‘It wasn’t a difficult decision to make, it would have been if I didn’t have management in place that I’ve seen this year. I’ve been gobsmacked how we’ve got through this Covid.

‘This is the toughest test I’ve had in nearly 50 years. Nothing can compare with Covid and the way that the team have got through that, if I needed convincing, I’m realistic and think, “these people are actually better than me!”

‘Give them the opportunity, let them take the sport to the next level, they’ve seen the rules we operate under, go and do it, and impress me! I’m El Presidente, non-executive, advisory only, zero power but I still have an opinion. I’ll still be watching and I’m passionate about this sport.’


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