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European Pool Championship 27 June 2005

The Isle of Man has won the right to stage the prestigious 2005 European 8 Ball Pool Championships - an event which will bring around 600 players, officials and spectators to the Island in mid-October.

The Manx bid was chosen in preference to others from England and Eire and discussions have been taking place between the promoters, International Sports Promotions, together with the two main sponsors, The Isle of Man Department of Tourism and Okells Brewery, to advance the plans.

Teams expected to attend are England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Eire, France, Shetlands, Orkney, Gibraltar and the Channel Islands. The Isle of Man will also have around 60 players involved in the tournament, which runs from October 9-14 in the Royal Hall of the Villa Marina.

In addition, a separate five person competition is scheduled for countries which might not be able to enter a full 11 person team. Invitations have gone out to Belgium, Holland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Malta and Greece.

Promoter Ross McInnes said the £18,000 prize fund on offer was bigger than that for the world championships.

He added:

"The Villa Marina will be an excellent venue and I am sure the players will be as impressed as I was when I first saw it. They are used to playing in big halls but the Villa is classy as well as being able to accommodate 24 tables, which will be supplied by Island Automatics.

"I have now been to the Island four or five times putting the arrangements in place and the co-operation received has been first class. The Tourism Department, officials at the venue itself, and the brewery are 100 per cent behind the event. Everything I have asked for has been met and I have not had one negative response. Thanks must also go to the Castle Mona Hotel which is providing free accommodation for referees and officials which will help enormously in keeping down costs."

The credit for launching the initiative to bring the championships to the Island goes to Steve Pickett, logistics director of Heron and Brearley, who approached Ross about the possibility of staging a major tournament. Paul Moore, manager of the Tourism Departmentís Special Events Unit, came on board as well and the decision was taken to launch a bid for the European Championship itself.

The event will be recorded independently and negotiations are taking place for coverage, at a later date, on Sky Television and Eurosport.

Several different individual and team competitions will be staged during the week including the Okells European Professional Championships, contested by 32 of the top players. They will have had to win through qualifying rounds to take their place in the Isle of Man. Overall prize fund is £5,000 with £2,000 going to the winner. Defending champion is Andy Lucas from England.

Around 250 people will be involved in a test of stamina to try and win the European Men's Singles Championship for amateur players and dethrone the current champion, Fred Ballouard from France. Winner picks up a cheque for £1,000.

An entry of nearly 120 is expected for the Ladies Championship which attracts a prize fund of £2,000, £800 of which goes to the winner. Defending champion is Shona Harper from Scotland.

Isle of Man Tourism Minister David Cretney said:

"Statistics have shown that pool is now the biggest participation sport in the UK which has 92,000 tables in use. It is a real feather in our cap to get this tournament and provides a wonderful opportunity for local residents to see the skill required to play the game at an international level. I congratulate everyone involved in bringing this event to the Island."

Local players, not involved in the championships, will also have an opportunity to pit their skills against the pool professionals. There are plans for the top players to feature in exhibition matches at 16 pubs around the Island where they will take on all-comers. However, the championship contenders will also have plenty of chance for relaxation - plans including a golf day and poker night!

The promoters of the event are very well known players and officials in their own right. Directors of International Sports Promotions are Ross McInnes and his wife Michaela Tabb. Ross has been a professional pool player for 25 years and is a four times world champion. Michaela is a former European champion but is now better known as an international snooker referee, having officiated at the last two world championships in Sheffield.

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