THERE have been calls for the sponsorship of the Wales Open Snooker to be renewed after it lapsed this year – with the tournament set to leave the city.

World Snooker’s chairman Barry Hearn said earlier this year that the current Wales Open snooker tournament – currently taking place at Newport Centre – will be the last in the city.

Mr Hearn had said the event is now more costly to stage and there would be more commercial opportunities if it was taken to the capital.

But at full council on Tuesday, Cllr Matthew Evans called for £20,000 to be spent on continuing to sponsor the event.

The previous Tory/Lib Dem administration had decided, back in 2011, to spend £60,000 on covering a shortfall in sponsorship, a deal that ended this year.

“The income generated, the increased footfall, and assistance for local hoteliers and businesses, not to mention all the free positive advertising enhance Newport’s reputation as a sporting city,” he said.

Cllr Ed Townsend, the only Liberal Democrat on the authority, said he found the reduction in spending on the event “regrettable”.

But during the debate Labour council leader Bob Bright said the tournament had been “in and out” and “blowing hot and cold.”

“They have been elsewhere and comeback,” he said, saying they wouldn’t give them £20,000.

A spokesman for World Snooker said: "We have staged the Welsh Open in Newport every year since 2005 and we are grateful for the support we have received from Newport City Council, as well as the support from local fans.

“Local support is obviously important to the success of any major event, however our sport is growing and with this our requirements change. As a consequence we have had to look at alternative locations for the Welsh Open.”