AN eagerly awaited match between snooker legends Ronnie O’Sullivan and Jimmy White left an audience seething because it couldn’t be seen from the theatre’s balcony
A large TV screen was erected on stage at the Cliffs Pavilion, but spectators say the quality was so poor no one could distinguish between the coloured balls.
The Echo received complaints after Wednesday night’s match where reigning world champion O’Sullivan lost to White in a close match compered by John Virgo.
Many who had paid £25 each for tickets were left angry and disappointed.
Neil Adlington, 54, took his father Ken, 83, to see the top flight players at the Westcliff venue and they ended up standing in the aisle for the second half – around two hours.
Neil, from Leigh, said: “Everybody was complaining. We could only see the back of the snooker table. Clearly, it was too far into the auditorium.
“It was our first live snooker match and we were really disappointed. The screen was a bit blurred and you couldn’t tell which balls were which.
“We stood in the aisle and by then there were more people standing than sitting.
“It was a bit of a bind for my father, being 83, but better than not seeing it at all. It’s not too clever for £25 each.”
After the interval, about a dozen chairs were put up by the stage to enable some people to move forward and see.
Another fan, a regular at snooker tournaments who did not want to be named, said he had been left bitterly disappointed.
The 72 year old said; “You couldn’t get near the manager to complain, there were so many unhappy people.
“I am very disappointed. They are my two favourite players. We couldn’t see the table, or the colours on the screen, which is pretty vital in snooker. They should never have sold us the tickets and should have done their homework.”
THE Cliffs has said it will learn from the issues raised.
Paul Driscoll, theatre director, apologised and said the production company had tested the equipment and checked sight lines with stage crew.
He said: “They seemed to be OK, as did the TV screen.
“But on the night, when we had a full audience and with the acute angle looking down from the balcony, the table was obscured by people in front.
“The TV screen should have been of better quality and was not a big enough size for our auditorium.
“Again, because of the angle, when it was viewed from the balcony the colours faded. A number of people were moved downstairs, or to boxes.”
Mr Driscoll has not ruled out hosting another snooker event, but said the issues raised by this one would have to be addressed.
Jason Francis, chief executive of the production company for the night, Events That Rok, said: “A site visit did test sight lines, but I do know some seats were sold as ‘restricted view’ at reduced rate. We also put in a big screen to go with the eight TV screens on the lighting truss.
“We received fantastic feedback from the people there. It was an amazing atmosphere and we look forward to visiting again and, of course, if we can improve on our audience’s experience, we will work with the Cliffs to do that.”
It was the first snooker match held at the Cliffs for 20 years.