Manila to host World Pool Championship

The prestigious World Pool Championships will be held in Manila in November this year, marking the first time that the annual event featuring the greatest billiard players in the world will be held in the Philippines.

Viva Sports/Manila Standard Today learned that top officials of Matchroom Sport headed by its chairman, British millionaire Barry Hearn and media director Luke Riches as well as ESPN Star Sports executives will arrive in Manila next week to finalize deals of what reportedly is a done deal.

Matchroom Sport, the giant sports and entertainment company headed by Hearn has long expressed a desire to stage the World Pool Championships in Manila and made this clear during conversations with the recognized "Godfather" of Philippine pool Aristeo "Putch" Puyat and this reporter during the 2004 World Pool Championships in Chinese-Taipei.

The added impetus was that the title was won by the colorful and exciting Alex "The Lion" Pagulayan. In last year's championships staged in Kaohsiung, teenage sensation Wu Chia Ching defeated fellow Taiwanese Kuo Peng after ousting Filipino "Marvelous" Marlon Manalo in the semi finals.

Hearn who was responsible for changing the face of snooker, shaking up boxing, venturing into soccer and golf and several other sports as head of Matchroom Sport would obviously be pleased that a local group has come to an agreement to stage the World Pool Championships in Manila with the contract details to be finalized upon his arrival.

While hosting the World Pool Championships is a costly exercise the positive media mileage gained is expected to be more than worthwhile especially since pool-crazy Filipinos would love to see 1999 champion Efren "Bata" Reyes, 2004 winner Alex "The Lion" Pagulayan, 2002 runner-up Francisco "Django" Bustamante and promising stars such as "Marvelous" Marlon Manalo match their skills against the finest players from Chinese-Taipei, the US and Europe along with emerging talents from Japan and South Korea.

The local group which will host the event is expected to get substantial support from the government as well as flagship companies in the forefront of support for Philippine sports such as San Miguel Corporation, PLDT-Smart, the Lucio Tan Group of Companies among others.

ESPN Star Sports, the worldwide leader in sports will serve as host broadcaster. However, there will also be a local broadcast counterpart. ESPN Star Sports Harry Davies is expected in Manila next week for the formal signing and press conference.

Viva Sports/Manila Standard Today was informed that the top prize will be the biggest in the history of the World Pool Championships running into six figures.

No venue has been selected as yet but in line for the right to stage the matches are the Philippine International Convention Center, the World Trade Center and billionaire Henry Sy's Mall of Asia.