(last updated July 2019)
In the UK, around 7% of the population participates in snooker, billiards and pool and it is significantly more popular with men than it is with women. According to Yell.com there are around 650 pool and snooker centres in the UK and it seems that numbers are currently declining. Traditionally, the customer base of snooker and pool clubs has been dominated by adult males, although some clubs now actively encourage women and junior members.
Snooker is a very popular sport to watch on television and the annual World Championships and other important competitions are shown by the BBC and still attract significant audiences (although some way below their heyday in the 1970s and 1980s), which benefits the overall profile of the game. It seems that the ban on tobacco advertising (previously a strong supporter of the sport) has not greatly affected the fortunes of the sport. Pool does not enjoy such a high profile on terrestrial television but does feature on cable and satellite - for example, in 2005 Sky showed over 100 hours of televised pool and it continues to have a fairly prominent position in Sky's schedules.
In common with other leisure activities, participation in snooker and pool is affected by the level of consumers' disposable income and a club may experience a drop in demand during times of recession. According to government figures, consumer expenditure on recreational and sporting services fell during the closing years of the 2000s and opening years of the 2010s as the economy faltered but grew strongly as the economy recovered during 2013 and throughout 2014. The recovery continued into the first half of 2015 but then slowed in the second half and into 2016. The vote in June 2016 to leave the EU added a great deal of uncertainty to the economic outlook and consumer confidence in the economy started to fall. Economic growth slowed further in 2017 as a result of a squeeze on household spending power due to higher inflation and little growth in wages. Growth continued to be subdued during 2018 and into 2019. The weak pound and increasing inflation put further pressure on consumer spending. This and the uncertain economic picture are likely to result in individuals once again cutting back on non-essential expenditure. The likely effect is a drop in the number of people regularly visiting pool halls, at least in the short term.
A snooker and pool club faces direct competition from other clubs and indirect competition from venues such as pubs, sports clubs and leisure centres. So you will have to decide whether:
- there is sufficient demand in your area to support your proposed business
- you will be able to compete against other clubs in your area
- the level of indirect competition in your area will have a significant effect on your business
- you will be able to weather the current downturn in the economy
Keep up to date with developments in the sport
There is no national body that represents the interests of the snooker and pool club sector but there are several general snooker associations that may be of interest. They include:
- The English Association for Snooker and Billiards (EASB)
- The English Pool Association (EPA)
- English BlackBall Pool Federation
- The World Snooker Association
Visit their websites for more information.
You will be able to obtain a lot of useful information if you go to a trade show. You will be able to meet manufacturers and suppliers and plan your future stock and asset buying. Information about forthcoming trade shows can be found on the exhibitions website.