The return of competitive snooker to Preston’s Guild Hall was today hailed as “fantastic” and “long overdue”.
Many of the world’s top players are likely to take part in the Players Championship Grand Final at the venue next month where there is £300,000 in cash prizes available.
The tournament was originally due to be staged in Bangkok, but has changed location due to political unrest in the Thai capital.
It is the first time in almost 10 years that a major snooker tournament has been held in the city, which was once one of the country’s top locations for the sport’s big events.
The five day tournament will run from March 25 to 29.
Coun Peter Rankin, leader of Preston Council, said: “It is great to welcome back the world’s best snooker players to Preston and back to the Guild Hall, a venue which has been synonymous with the sport over the years.
“There is a great appetite for snooker in the region and I am sure people will want to come out and see the top stars of the sport competing in the Guild Hall.”
The Players Championship Grand Final is the culmination of the European Tour and Asian Tour series which has run throughout the 2013/14 season.
There have been eight events across Europe, and the fourth and final Asian event in China runs from March 4 to 8, after which the final line-up of 32 players for the tournament will be confirmed.
The top 24 from the European Tour Order of Merit, including the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Selby, John Higgins, Judd Trump, Ding Junhui and Neil Robertson will all be eligible to enter the final at the Guild Hall and chase the £100,000 top prize.
World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn added: “This announcement is fantastic news for the fans in the area, who now have a chance to see the top stars competing for a major title.
“Tickets will sell quickly so anyone who wants to experience the action live should get their seats booked immediately.”
Preston-born former snooker star Ian McCulloch said the move was ‘long overdue’ and added: “It’s absolutely brilliant, without being biased apart from the Crucible it was the best venue we ever played at. I loved it. It’s long overdue, they should have never taken it away.”
The manager of the Guild Hall, Melanie Hutchings, also welcomed the announcement, saying“It’s great news for the Guild Hall and for the city that snooker is coming back after nine years away. There will be a real buzz around not just Preston, but Lancashire and the North West.
“We will put on a great show and I am sure the players will be excited to come here too because of the history associated with snooker and the Guild Hall.”