PENARTH’S Dominic Dale insists he would welcome the proposed tournament format changes set to be introduced by World Snooker next season, but only if the governing body can guarantee a fair financial structure.

From June all 128 professionals will have to start in round one in eight major tournaments as opposed to the top 16 ranked players automatically qualifying for the last 32.

And, although intrigued by the idea of everyone starting on a level playing field, the 41-year-old is all too aware the sometimes financially unrewarding nature of the sport could catch up with the lesser ranked players.

With players no longer guaranteed a financial cushion upon entering a tournament, the onus is now on ensuring you are ranked in the top 64 to earn a first-round tie against lower-ranked opposition.

But, after spending most of his career trying to earn a spot in the top 16, Dale admitted the idea of ranking points may be made somewhat redundant for those near the top end.

“I don’t mind the idea of everybody starting in the same round. If you were introducing a new sport that is exactly what would happen,” said Dale.

“But obviously those who have been around for a while may think things are back to square one.

“I can only agree with it if it is okay for everyone. If you look at tennis, where everybody starts in round one, you have to have a good prize money structure.

“Unless World Snooker can put prize money in round one, I’m not sure I would agree with it but I believe there will be player meetings to finalise the rules and see what they think in general.

“The first few tournaments of the season are all abroad and it costs a lot of money in terms of entrance fees, flights and accommodation.

“You may find yourself shelling out almost £4,000 before you see any return on your money. I have known players during the season who have said to me it may be better to lose their qualifying round as they get paid quicker.

“As things are the rankings don’t really matter unless you are between 55 and 70. If you make the top 64 you are guaranteed to face a lower-ranked opponent and that’s the only incentive now.”

Dale, known as ‘The Spaceman,’ now has his sights on improving his ranking of 21 with Welsh Open qualifying to contend with as well as an opening tie against Masters finalist Neil Robertson in the World Open.

And now boasting a clean bill of health after shingles ended his UK Championships hopes early on, Dale feels he is ready to push on towards the World Championships in April.

“I have been unlucky with illness. I was struck with adult chicken pox before my first round game in the UK Championships,” he added.

“So I had to play and I had no energy but I am better now and, hopefully, that won’t hold me back anymore and I can push on and progress.

“I have played Neil six or seven times which is a bit bizarre but I don’t think he has beaten me in the last five matches. Still, records count for little and he is a fantastic player though and a great champion.”

* British Eurosport is the Home of Snooker, showing 19 tournaments this season including the World Championship, UK Championship, the Masters and all ranking events; available on Sky (410/411) and Virgin Media (521/525) or online/on mobile via