Now in the millionaires of the green fabric how Luca Brezel saw black snow for a long time

Get filthy riches. To do that you need to be called O’Sullivan, Hendry or Higgins. But after his amazing performance in The Crucible, Luca Brezel is also on his way to becoming a multi-millionaire. Say he’s seen black ice for a long time.

Kyle Tomes

That Lamborghini he’s been dreaming of may finally be on the loose. He already owns Louboutins and Rolexes.Luca Brecel doesn’t hesitate to add some bling bling. But it was once different. We return to January 10, 2011. Carlo Brezel cries for help in the newspaper. Father to Luca, then a 15-year-old snooker prodigy. At the end of 2010, the fearsome youngster was voted ‘Promise of the Year’ at a sports gala in Ostend. He received the gift from Sven Nys, who left the speech to his father. “We are looking for 100,000 euros or my son’s life will be over before it begins,” says Carlo Brezel bluntly.

The emergence of great Belgian snooker talent coincided with the globalization of snooker. Until then mainly know about the channel. In early 2010, sports promoter Barry Hearn, who had been with Matchroom Sport Ltd since 2001 as the big man of Professional Darts Corporation, succeeded in expanding the boundaries of the green cloth.

He is also entering trade markets outside the UK and holding competitions in China, Brazil and Australia. The professional tour, which consists of six major tournaments with a total prize money of three million, will be expanded to twenty ranking events worldwide, with a total prize money of almost €15 million. Meanwhile, it has been increased to 28 official ranking tournaments and the prize money is heading towards 20 million.

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Snooker Toppers is part of Hearn’s story as manager of the legendary Steve Davies in the 1970s. Multiple world champions Stephen Hendry, Ronnie O’Sullivan and John Higgins travel the world following their cue sticks and find themselves short on money. But for the diminutive snooker Belgian of Tilsen-Stokem, snooker’s universal allure attack is a poisoned gift.

Brezel has heaps of talent. Former world champion Graeme Dodd once said: “Only beer and women can stop this guy from becoming the best in the world”. But skill alone is not enough to turn snooker heaven into storm. For the talent to pay off, you have to invest, and that’s where Brezels struggle early on.

“Luca was about to enter the international circuit,” recalls father Carlo Brazel. “To earn good money you already have to play in the semi-finals or finals. If you win the tournament or get out in the first round, you have to cover the expenses equally. Transportation expenses, accommodation expenses, food,… and all the times are three. Besides Luca, I traveled as a supervisor, with me. There was a coach. That’s why we quickly reached 100,000 euros. We were welcomed on all sides, but at the same time we were left to our own devices.


Brazel had to rely on external financial support to meet Snooker. Little has changed in that respect in over ten years. The Flemish Snooker Federation vzw is currently a sports federation recognized by Sport Vlaanderen and the Flemish government, but not subsidized. This puts snooker on the same level as darts, pétanque and three-cushion.

Brezel spent the first few years slogging, working, making sure he could make ends meet. Three years ago, when Brezel had been active on the professional circuit for almost ten years, he passed 1 million euros in prize money. Only a small circle of the very best can amass a small snooker fortune. Most of the 128 active players on the ‘World Snooker Tour’ are fighting for the crumbs at the table.

According to a British study published last year, the top sixteen people in the world earned an average of 275,000 euros on green paper, excluding all kinds of expenses. For comparison: the average annual salary in the NBA is 7.5 million euros. It does not include individual sponsorship deals. As snooker is essentially a mainstream sport, sponsorship deals with multinationals have also failed to materialise.

Unlike football, basketball, baseball,… snooker is played in smaller arenas. The Crucible Theater could only hold 1,000 spectators, so not much revenue was generated there from ticket sales. This ensures that the commercial income of snooker is relatively small.

Real snooker millionaires can be counted on the fingers. Ronnie O’Sullivan, the seven-time world champion, suffered a quarter-final loss to Brazall, snookering nearly €14 million over three decades. Stephen Hendry and John Higgins also added assets of over ten million euros. Brezel is far from hitting that jackpot. But the lime-free period of our countryman is fortunately behind him.

Ferdinand Woolridge

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