NEXT week’s Masters tournament has had to be moved at the last minute from Alexandra Palace to Milton Keynes.
The prestigious invitation event featuring the only the world’s top 16 players will be the second of the season’s three Majors.
Initially complying with then government protocols up to 1,000 tickets per session were being sold at the famous London venue.
But last month new Tier Four restrictions meant the decision was taken to stage the tournament behind closed doors.
And now World Snooker Tour, faced with logistical hotel problems and the need to comply with tighter bubble regulations, have had to switch venues.
The Marshall Arena in the Buckinghamshire town has been the home of snooker all season so far.
The MK Stadium facility enjoys the benefit of having a hotel on site making it easier to contain the movements of players, staff and officials.
The lack of suitable hotel accommodation close to Ally Pally is thought to have been an obstacle to keeping the Masters in its traditional home.
Snooker was confirmed last month by Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Oliver Dowden as one of the elite sports that could stage events without a crowd.
And World Snooker Tour chairman Barry Hearn, awarded the OBE in the New Year’s Honours, is on record as saying the re-appearance of fans may not come until April’s World Championship.
On the switch Hearn said: “Snooker’s Masters is moving from Ally Pally to Milton Keynes.
“We took the view that because we are going back to a full bubble, and there must be less coming and going, because of the numbers of people involved we need to go back to Milton Keynes.
“There we can do it properly and know it is 100 per cent safe, and that together with complying with government regulations has always been paramount.”