Working on the theory that a lawsuit against the PSA would just enrich the lawyers, the Pro Squash Tour's Joe McManus recently announced that he was dropping his suit and would concentrate his efforts on the court of squash rather than the court of law. I asked him a couple of questions:
1. Where does this decision leave the original points of contention? For instance, the PSA did not like the fact that you ranked your players. Will that continue?
"In October 2010, the PSA banned their members from playing PST tournaments. After three months of negotiation, we came to the conclusion that an agreement wasn’t possible. To win the lawsuit would have taken as long as two years and over $100,000. We decided to spend the money on players instead of legal fees and withdrew the court case.
Regrettably, the ban forced us to defend ourselves and compete against the PSA. Before the ban, we viewed the association as a friendly group who shared our interest in growing the fan base for pro squash. Now their public and private actions have created a divide.
PSA is run by ex-PSA players. But their recent decisions are hurting the ability of current players to earn more money playing squash. In the fullness of time, this moment will be viewed as a stain on the PSA’s history. We continue to call on PSA to lift this ban. PSA changes leadership frequently enough. Maybe, the next group will be more thoughtful."
2. Is the PSA continuing to ban players who play in the PST, as they announced back in October?
"PSA isn’t telling its players what the punishment is for competing in our tournaments.
Ned Marks, a PSA member, played in our Connecticut Open. PSA suspended him for a month as a result and pulled his entry from the Tournament of Champions. No one is truly sure if that should be viewed as a precedent-setting moment. They don’t really value transparency in their operations.
Our next tournament is the Westchester Open. There are 16 players registered. 6 of them were PSA members as of December. We have 3 players registered for February’s Baltimore tournament who were listed as PSA members in December. PSA is going to lose a lot of membership dues if they continue with this ill-conceived ban.
PST does not charge players to compete in our events. Our players are professionals who earn money competing in our tournaments."
3. In what ways has the PST changed so that the court case is no longer an issue for the PSA?
"Pro Squash Tour is unchanged, except that we continue to grow."
4. I'm assuming your competitions will continue to be no-let matches, is that right?
"Absolutely. Once you’ve see what the pros can do without the hindrance of a let, you don’t want to go back to the old style of play."
5. You also announced a $100,000 signing bonus for a top-ten player from the PSA to jump ship and play the PST. Any bites? An excellent blog at brettssquashblog.com, proposes that Thierry Lincou might go for it.
"I have spoken to four players. Each asked for confidentiality. For the moment, I need to leave it at that. Brett wrote a very fair and thoughtful piece. He’s a good guy who loves the game. Squash has the benefit of having some very reasoned bloggers.
Regarding Thierry Lincou. He is a professional’s professional. If you need him to be somewhere at 3:00, he arrives at 2:55. He is more reliable than a sundial. He also plays the game in the manner it was intended to be played, and he is one of the best players in the world. I believe he could win another World Open or World Series. However, if he chooses to join PST, we would enthusiastically welcome him as the face of our tour.
We intend to make the person who accepts our offer the most famous squash player in the world’s largest market."
6. You announced that you are also starting an apparently separate entity called Premier Squash Tour. Is that correct, or will the Pro Squash Tour become the Premier? Can you give any specifics on how you see this new Tour developing?
"Premier Squash will provide exclusive squash experiences tailored to the desires of the host. We do not anticipate publicizing these events and will do a select few of these each year."