WORLD Snooker chairman Barry Hearn says the BetVictor Welsh Open has outgrown Newport and will have a "fitting stage" when it moves to Cardiff next year.

The world ranking event will be staged in Cardiff this season for the first time since 2004.

The tournament has been staged at the Newport Centre since 2005 but now moves to the Motorpoint Arena in the Welsh capital and will run from February 16-22 next year.

The BBC Wales-televised event will be contested by 128 players, all starting in the same round, with a top prize of £60,000.

This year’s final in Newport saw Ronnie O’Sullivan thrash Ding Junhui 9-3, making an incredible 147 maximum break in the last frame. Other winners in recent years include Stephen Maguire, Ding Junhui, John Higgins, Ali Carter, Mark Selby and Neil Robertson.

World Snooker chief Hearn said: “The BetVictor Welsh Open has grown dramatically in recent years with increased prize money, growing live attendances and a new structure.

"While we are grateful to the people of Newport for their support, it is time to move the event down the M4 to the capital city to allow it to continue to build momentum.

“The Motorpoint Arena is a top class venue and a fitting stage for the world’s very best snooker players.

"This is a tournament with such a rich history, ever present on our calendar as a world ranking event for over 20 years.

"I have no doubt that the people of South Wales will be out in force to make the 2015 Welsh Open a truly spectacular week of snooker.”

Gwent's two-time world champion Mark Williams, from Cwm, added: “It’s fantastic news for snooker fans in Cardiff.

"I remember when the Welsh Open was first held in Cardiff in 1999 and I beat Stephen Hendry 9-8 in the final, it remains one of my best moments.

“I always enjoyed playing Newport but hopefully Cardiff will be even better. The Motorpoint Arena is an excellent venue and I’m sure it will be packed out.”

Tickets are on sale now at the Motorpoint Arena box office on 029 20 224488.