Ex-snooker star Chris gives up cash battle

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FORMER snooker champion Chris Small is facing a future on benefits after accepting defeat in his battle for money from a World Snooker disability fund.

The father of four and former world number 12 has fought for money from the fund, set up to help stricken former snooker stars, for nearly two years.

He had to quit the game after developing a rare degenerative spinal condition, ankylosing spondylitis, and has been having to claim benefits since.

But the latest stumbling block has resulted in him throwing in the towel over continuing the battle with trustees of the Professional Billiards and Snooker Players Benevolent Fund (PBSPBF).

Snooker legend Jimmy White today hit out at World Snooker, describing their rejection of his application as "diabolical".

Leith-born Mr Small, 34, gave up his bid for funding after a series of rejections by the fund's trustees.

He said today: "It has been going on for ages and it has just been one thing after another for them.

"If they don't want to help a former player then what's the point of the fund in the first place? It clearly states that it is for players who have had a hard time with illness or financial problems so why would they not pay out.

"They've paid out to seven or eight players recently but I don't know who they could be because nobody else has had to give up through ill-health."

In the latest development of his appeal for funds, trustees said they would not pay out unless he could provide a medical certificate, which was going to cost him 250 to obtain.

He said he refused because he has previously been rejected already and "money is tight and I can't afford to waste that money".

The latest rejection comes only four months after he and wife Clare, a childminder, had a baby boy, Christopher.

The couple put their Craigentinny home up for sale in a bid to bring in some extra money, but took it off because of the state of the market.

Snooker star White said today: "I think it is diabolical. The man pursued a career in snooker but now it looks like they are turning their backs on him, which is such a shame."

Official documents from the PBSPBF show it has been set up as a registered charity to deal with medical, health or sickness issues, disabilities and relief of poverty by making grants to individual former players.

Latest accounts show that the PBSPBF spent 3982 in grants in the year ended June 30, 2007. In the previous year, it spent 9004 and in the years to the end of both June 2005 and June 2006 its total expenditure topped 25,000.

The accounts also show that at the end of June 2007, the fund had cash assets of 207,690.

The rejection of the application from Mr Small, who won the LG Cup in 2002, has been previously criticised in the Evening News by snooker stars including White, John Parrot and Graeme Dott.

Snooker commentator Clive Everton, also the editor of Snooker Scene magazine, said: "If this fund is not set up for people like him, then who is it set up for?

"It is not often that other players put their head above the parapet because they are so frightened of World Snooker. But I don't think there is anyone in the game who doesn't have sympathy for Chris and that is why they have been willing to speak out."

Elaine Eyers, company secretary of World Snooker Limited, said: "We do not discuss individual applications because every application is on a confidential basis."