Alfie Burden back on the baize as snooker relaunches with unique tournament

PUBLISHED: 10:36 01 June 2020 | UPDATED: 10:36 01 June 2020

Alfie Burden is among the 64-strong field in snooker's Championship League. Picture: WORLD SNOOKER/TAI CHENGZHE

Alfie Burden is among the 64-strong field in snooker's Championship League. Picture: WORLD SNOOKER/TAI CHENGZHE

Archant

Alfie Burden is among the 64-strong field battling it out for a new-look Snooker Championship League – as competitive sport makes a slow return from the coronavirus lockdown.

Alfie Burden is among the 64-strong field in snooker's Championship League. Picture: WORLD SNOOKER/TAI CHENGZHEAlfie Burden is among the 64-strong field in snooker's Championship League. Picture: WORLD SNOOKER/TAI CHENGZHE

The Welwyn potter takes to the baize on Wednesday in an event that is taking place behind closed doors at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes and under strict rules on social distancing.

All players, staff and contractors were virus-tested prior to entering the venue and will play all group matches on one day, remaining on site throughout.

The format is unique with players split into 16 groups of four for the first part before the winners move on to two further rounds, both involving more round-robin matches.

Burden’s group contains Kyren Wilson, Ryan Day and Chen Feilong and matches will be over the best of four frames, with a 3-0 win meaning no fourth frame will be played.

Ronnie O'Sullivan is also involved in snooker's Championship League. Picture: NIGEL FRENCH/PARonnie O'Sullivan is also involved in snooker's Championship League. Picture: NIGEL FRENCH/PA

Judd Trump kicks things off today [Monday] while the tournament also includes the likes of Mark King, Joe Perry, Mark Selby, Neil Robertson, Ken Doherty, Nigel Bond and Ronnie O’Sullivan.

Matchroom Sport chairman Barry Hearn, who is promoting the event, said: “During the challenging times of the past few weeks we have examined the opportunities which still exist and worked relentlessly towards the goal of getting our tour going again.

“While most other sports remain sidelined, we are ready to return.

“Our first priority has to be safety and we have had detailed discussions with government in creating a set of approved guidelines for the event which will be rigorously followed. We are making this very clear to the players and everyone working on the event.

“We will be the first major sport to get back to live televised action. That’s not by chance, it’s because of the hard work and preparation we have done during the lockdown to make sure we are ready to get going again as soon as it is legal.

“Procedures are being put in place for testing players, staff and contractors, which ensure that we are doing everything possible to keep the event safe. Players who have any doubts about their own welfare can rest assured that all precautions are being taken.

“I am confident that there is no other major sport which can meet health and safety criteria on isolation and social distancing as stringently as snooker can, so we are able to return more quickly than others.

“One of the reasons we have selected the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes is that the accommodation is on site, which means that once players arrive for testing the night before they play, they don’t need to leave until their matches have finished, and they can remain isolated within the venue. It is a superb venue with ideal facilities.

“These are challenging times but as always we are looking at the opportunities rather than the limitations.

“Championship League will provide 11 days of televised sport with extensive live coverage, from 3pm until 10pm each day.

“For the fans out there who are starved of live sport it will be a fantastic boost and a very welcome diversion from these tough times we are all going through.

“We are thrilled to be working with ITV on Championship League for the first time, with an exciting new format.”


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