Southampton: Company sets out to make snooker a major sport in India

A Southampton-based company has secured an agreement with World Snooker to develop the sport in India on the global scale now enjoyed by cricket.

India Business Group (IBG), which is located on Chilworth Science Park and has offices in London, has joined forces with UK-­based World Snooker to help make it a truly global sport.

2020 sees the 145th anniversary of the sport being founded in India and IBG will focus on helping World Snooker increase the numbers who play the game on the sub-continent as well as creating more interest at all levels of Indian society.

With an existing global television audience of over half a billion, World Snooker wants to bring the game to more people across the world and continue to work closely with the Billiards and Snooker Federation of India (BSFI), the country’s governing body for cue sports.

World Snooker’s commercial director, Miles Pearce, said: We are delighted to be partnering with IBG at a time when both of our respective organisations are hosting world class events aimed at promoting closer bilateral relations between the UK and India.

He added: “We look forward to working with IBG to help take snooker to new heights across the country and to replicate the success we have had in both Europe and the People’s Republic of China.”

As part of the collaboration, IBG will assist in the promotion of the Indian Open, an annual global professional ranking tournament, taking place in March 2020. This will be a brilliant opportunity for Indians to witness top players of the world who might participate in this event. The Indian Open was first staged in New Delhi in 2013. This year’s tournament was held in the port city of Kochi, with England’s Matthew Selt winning his first world-­ranking snooker title since turning pro 13 years ago.

A former Southampton lawyer, Amarjit Singh is IBG’s chief executive and a member of the UK-India Sports Alliance. He said: “This is a tremendous project and allows India Business Group to showcase the full range of its skills. We’re delighted to be working with Giles and the team at World Sport.”

IBG’s chair, Lord Patel of Bradford OBE, said: “If there’s one country which can take a sport and create a global brand, it’s India. Just look at what the IPL has contributed to cricket. At the moment, an estimated 2.5 million Indians play snooker in India. With its strong historical links to India, where the sport was invented in 1875 in Jabalpur, and with 600 million people estimated to be under 25, it has to be the perfect place for market growth.”

Sir Dominic Asquith, British high commissioner to India, said: “I congratulate India’s IBG and UK’s World Snooker on their initiative to promote snooker. I treasure my visits to the Ooty Club, where the framed letter from Sir Neville Chamberlain, setting out the rules of the game, can still be found overlooking a billiards table shipped by Burroughes and Watts from London. The UK and India share a common love for sport and I was thrilled to see the scores of Indian fans who painted entire stadiums blue during the Cricket World Cup in England and Wales this year. I look forward to watching this initiative further strengthen the Living Bridge between our nations.”