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Sky Sports to cover European Pool Event 27 September 2005

    Around 600 players and supporters are booked to travel to the Island in early October to attend the six-day European Pool Championships at the Villa Marina and to compete for the £18,000 prize fund.

    Over 400 entries have been received in the different categories with the current champions in the three main sections – men’s, women’s and professional - defending their titles. Teams will be attending from the four home countries as well as Eire, France, Shetland, Orkney, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man itself, while a 30-strong contingent from Gibraltar probably has the furthest distance to travel.

    There was a boost for the tournament this week with the announcement that the finals are to be shown on Sky Sports. Four, one-hour programmes are being recorded and transmitted at a later date. Each one will be repeated three times.

    The filming process is in the hands of the Manx-based company MBS Productions which was responsible for the acclaimed coverage, earlier this year, of the Parish Walk and June Bowling Festival.

    Said championship promoter Ross McInnes: ‘We were already looking at a highly successful event but the news about the television coverage is the icing on the cake. This not only enhances the championship and our sport itself but gives the Isle of Man greater exposure as a tourist resort and a centre for world sporting events.

    ‘The co-operation I have received from Paul Moore at the Tourist Department’s Special Events Unit, Steve Dawson at the Villa Marina and Ian Lennox at Okells Brewery has been first class and their enthusiasm and expertise has ensured this will be a very special event.’

    The opening ceremony is to be performed at the Villa Marina on the morning of Sunday October 9 by Tourism Minister David Cretney and, shortly afterwards, while the play gets underway, invited guests enjoy a champagne buffet and reception.

    Mr.Cretney said: ‘The Isle of Man has received some excellent publicity this year through television coverage of sports we have staged such as the TT Races, Parish Walk, the Bowls Festival, the End to End Mountain Bike event and now the European Pool Championships.

    ‘In recent years the Island has become a major figure in the world of financial services and now the same is becoming true in a sports context. We have shown we can host, successfully, international events and the publicity achieved is bound to have a spin-off effect in relation to tourism generally.’

    Play continues at the Villa Marina, via 32 tables supplied by Island Automatics, until the finals on Friday October 14. One of the highlights is the Okells European Professional Championship where 32 players have won through from qualifying rounds to take their place in the Island. Defending champion is Andy Lucas from England.

    On the last day of the tournament each competitor receives a gift to mark their involvement, which will be presented to them by Martin Kirwan, chairman of the European and UK Pool Federation. Later in the evening the curtain comes down on the championship when the main awards are distributed - at the presentation dinner prepared by renowned Italian chef Carlo Parlato - by sponsors of individual competitions.

    There will be no question of players being bored during their non-playing days. Events organised for them include a golf day at Mount Murray, wine tasting and a poker night. On the Tuesday, 16 selected Okells’ pubs host a special evening when two professionals will be present at each of the venues to stage a pool exhibition.

    Main corporate sponsors as well as the Department of Tourism are Okells, the Castle Mona, Island Automatics, Sleepwell Hotels and Hallmark Security, with negotiations still taking place to bring others on board.

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