Betfred, the independent UK bookmaker, has announced that it is to become the main sponsor of the World Snooker Championship for the next four years. Previously sponsored by online gaming operator 888.com, snooker's most prestigious tournament will now be known as the Betfred.com World Snooker Championship.
The sponsorship deal arrives just in time for the start of the live televised event, which kicks off on Saturday April 18th and finishes two weeks later on Monday May 4th at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.
Featuring a host of snooker's top professional players including the likes of defending champion Ronnie O'Sullivan, seven-time winner Stephen Hendry, John Higgins, Steve Davis, Shaun Murphy, and Ali Carter, the tournament is one of the highlights of the sporting calendar.
Last year the tournament received 127 hours of coverage from BBC Sport, with 24.5 million adults watching at least five minutes of consecutive action. It also received extensive coverage around the world with a reach of over 60 million individuals on Eurosport and a peak audience of over 10 million on CCTV5 in China alone.
Announcing the deal, Betfred Founder and Chairman, Fred Done, said: "It's always been an ambition of mine to sponsor a World Championship and this is a competition with so much history. When it comes to snooker this is the pinnacle of the sport and I look forward to watching the world's greatest 32 players."
Sir Rodney Walker, World Snooker Chairman, said: "We are extremely pleased to have entered into a long-term partnership with Betfred.com, which is a fantastic company for our sport to be associated with and again they have demonstrated their support to the benefit of all fans.
"The fact we have been able to secure a four-year agreement within the current economic climate is testament to the popularity of snooker in the UK and internationally. We look forward to working together with Betfred.com to build and develop the sport further over the coming years."
The World Snooker Association has been searching for a new sponsor since August of last year when 888 announced it was pulling the plug on its five year sponsorship deal two years early. The company cited the difficult economic climate for its decision to withdraw.