Aberdeen snooker star Marc Davis fears Scotland may lose a future champion because of the financial burden caused by turning professional.
Davis, a seven-time North of Scotland champion, was one match away from winning a place on the World Snooker Tour at Q-School in 2016.
However, before defeat to Chris Keogan in the defining match, Davis admits he was fearful of the financial pressures victory would bring.
Entry fees, travel and accommodation costs would have amounted to tens of thousands of pounds. With no sponsors and first round losers not receiving any prize money on tour, the 33-year-old would have had no guaranteed income.
Looking back Davis, who has played in tour events like the China Open, Northern Ireland Open and Indian Open as a top-up player said: “I was told if I won the game against Chris Keogan, I would be professional and three tournaments would be open for entry at the start of the season.
“The Riga Masters, the Indian Open and the World Open and the entry fee was something like £700 for each tournament and I’d need to find that the next day, as well as my World Snooker membership, if I won against Chris Keogan.
“I was told all that the day before the match and when I was back at the hotel it dawned on me I couldn’t afford to turn professional.
“It was the first time in my life I’ve ever been scared to win, because I knew if I won against Chris Keogan I’d have needed to find over £20,000.
“That might sound unrealistic, but you had around 30 tournaments with entry fees as well as travel to places like China and India as well as accommodation and I would have needed to leave my job.
“The will to win when I was playing Chris Keogan had gone, because it had dawned on me that I was screwed if I turned professional.
“I’d already ran up some debt playing snooker because it was very costly playing and getting the experience I needed.
“Thankfully I sorted those financial difficulties out, but those are the financial pressures you are under.
“There are around 30 events on the main tour, so over the season it’s a lot of money to find before you play in them without any guarantee of winning any prize money.”
Entry fees were removed on the World Snooker Tour in 2017, but Davis still estimates the cost of playing on the circuit for a year would be around £10,000.
With governing body in this country, Scottish Snooker, receiving limited funding, supporting the next generation of talent is difficult.
Scotland has enjoyed huge success in snooker in recent times, on 12 occasions since 1990 a Scot has been world champion, but Davis is concerned for the future.
The player, who has previously faced the likes of Judd Trump and Shaun Murphy in Players Tour Championship events, added: “I think all the pressures will make it difficult for people.
“Scottish snooker in terms of players coming through isn’t in great shape right now.
“There are talented youngsters, but in Scotland, unlike in England and other places, there is no government funding so it’s down to the players and their families to find funding from their own pockets or through sponsorship.
“But the future of Scottish snooker is bleak unless there is some kind of support.”
The dream still exists for Davis
Marc Davis still harbours ambitions of becoming a professional snooker player and hopes signing with a management company can help him.
Although he has played very little snooker over the last year because of the pandemic, Davis hopes when things improve he will be able to get back to his best.
Davis, who practises at Rileys and plays for 22 club in the Aberdeen snooker league, said: “I still believe I could get on the main tour and compete. Snooker isn’t a sport where age matters so much, the cue doesn’t know your age.
“If I could get the support in place then I would jump at the chance and I believe I could get on the tour.
“I know my game is still there and I’ve probably been more successful in the last two years than ever before.
“There’s a great standard of snooker in Aberdeen, we’re Scottish County champions and we don’t even have a match table in the city – that shows the talent that is there.
“We played the English county champions in Liverpool last year and I won player of the tournament and we were playing against people who had been on the tour.
“That showed me I could compete really well. My nan Irene Woodgate was a big sponsor and big help to me, but she passed away in 2018 sadly and she was a massive loss to me.
“During Covid-19, I’ve only played 30 frames in the last year, but during this time I’ve had time to think what I’d like to do when we come out of these times.
“I’ve signed for a management company called Sports Pro Care and the guy I’m working with is called James Hair.
“On board he has the likes of Shaun Murphy and David Gilbert, so I’m with a good company.
“The agency are going to try to find sponsorship for me when the time is right and I’ll be trying to find sponsors myself.”