Davis plan given backing
World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn's controversial proposal to hand Steve Davis a tour wild card for next season has support from within.
The six-time world champion lost early in qualifying for this year's Crucible tournament, which begins on Saturday, and has fallen outside the top 64 in the money list, meaning he is due to drop out of the paid ranks this summer.
Hearn, who has always insisted snooker should be a meritocracy under his leadership, could authorise a move to give Davis an exemption because he considers the 56-year-old an "exceptional" case.
Jimmy White, who also failed to qualify for the World Championship, could join Davis in dropping out of the top 64, depending on results of others at the Crucible. He too could be offered a wild card.
Hearn said on BBC Radio Five Live: "It's a tough call, it represents a 360-degree turn in my normal decision-making process. But I've got to be flexible when common sense comes into play and it's causing me sleepless nights.
"It's a very difficult call and something I'm going to be thinking about over the next few days to see if I've opened a can of worms or whether it would be wrong of me not to repay those players' loyalty to the game by making an exception."
Alan McManus, the 43-year-old Scot who reached two World Championship semi-finals and won the Masters, is firmly in favour of keeping Davis on the tour.
"Some of the guys have said he should get a wild card and I'm all in favour of that," McManus said.
"I would love to see him back playing."
Davis lost to Craig Steadman in the second round of World Championship qualifying but there were moments where the player who dominated snooker in the 1980s showed his finesse.
McManus was an absorbed spectator in the latter stages of the match, saying: "I sat and watched him and he made 98 and it was a pleasure to watch.
"I'd just like to see him back playing. He's a class guy, class act, class player. It would be a big miss for the whole tour."
Hearn, who has been a long time friend and agent of Davis, will run his plan past fellow World Snooker board members.
"Steve's my best mate so straight away I can't vote, I'm biased," Hearn said.
"Sometimes there are exceptional circumstances and you have to make exceptional decisions. I think it's something Steve has to think about - what does he want out of his life? Does it involve playing snooker? Does he want to go through Q School?"
Davis appears to have ruled out the latter prospect, telling national newspapers he would not take on the next generation in the end-of-season scramble for tour places.
He said: "I am not retiring, it is more just working through how I would proceed. Because I am treating it almost as a hobby I don't want to stop another prospective young player who wants to make it a profession. So I don't want to be selfish and I won't be playing in the qualifying school this year.
"But I might do it as a one-off in 2017 to try and qualify for the year I am 60. And if that happened then that would be by swansong year."
Hearn has also floated the idea of handing seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry, who retired in 2012, a tour wild card.
Hendry recently said he would not be coming back to snooker, however Davis said: "I don't think Stephen wants to be a full-time snooker player, but last time I talked to him he wouldn't mind playing in a few events."