IPA Pool: It's our golden era, says chairman Kevin Barton

Kevin Barton, Chairman of IPA Pool
Kevin Barton has been registered as a professional pool player for 13 years
IPA Pool Tour 5: Isle of Man Open
Coverage: Live on BBC Sport website, app and connected TVSaturday 26 Oct: 13:00-22:00Sunday 27 Oct: 11:30-19:00

IPA Tour chairman Kevin Barton predicts blackball pool will make a breakthrough similar to the way snooker first had an impact in the 1970s.

"We've seen what happened with snooker and we think we can follow suit," he said before the Isle of Man Open.

"They said pool had a golden era in the late 1990s but I think this is the golden era now - no-one dominates."

This weekend's Isle of Man Open in Douglas is streamed by the BBC and is the final event of the 2019 IPA Tour.

"The strength in depth at the moment is unprecedented," said Barton, a professional player since 2006.

"This weekend you could choose from 30 people who could win it. There's not many sports like that.

"Ultimately we want to create a professional circuit where these players can earn a good living from the sport. We've got a great product - it's edge-of-your-seat drama."

Emma Cunningham
Emma Cunningham has dominated the Women's tour for the past two seasons

Blackball pool's expansion will see the Tour visit three new venues - Walsall, Hull and Bournemouth - in the five scheduled Open events next year, with international events also set for the future.

"We do a World Series - we've been in Morocco, South Africa, Cyprus, France, Netherlands, Norway. We've just had to put it on hold this year because we've had too much other stuff going on," said Barton.

"We'll be looking to re-establish those events in the future - blackball is watched globally and we need to continue reaching out to these new pool communities and audiences."

In the drive to change the perception of the sport, the IPA are even changing the look of the tables. The official Tour ones are shipped to each event.

"Basically it's a slate bed and six pockets," said Barton. "But we've added brushed steel to them and we've trimmed the pockets ever so slightly. We're trying to bring the look of this sport into the 21st Century."

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