Interview with the chairman of the Pro Table Soccer Association

The driving force behind the new Pro Table Soccer Association has a dream – to get table soccer/Subbuteo on Sky Sports.

It’s a bold ambition but one that is driven by the success seen by darts in recent years, with PTSA chairman Daniel Lilley pointing to Barry Hearn as an inspiration.

Newly launched for 2016, the PTSA includes four tour events, concluding with a 10-player Masters event at the Etihad Stadium in November.

The three prior to that enable players to earn order of merit points to fight for eight places at the Masters, while two wildcard places will also be offered at the discretion of the organisers.

Lilley, a former chairman of the English Subbuteo Association and a former footballer, thinks that the PTSA has an exciting future.

He said: “I used to play as a kid, so had good memories, perhaps not of standing on figures! About five or six years ago I got back into it, found the ESA and now I work with a number of the top teams and associations.

“My time at the ESA made me realise there is a high standard of table soccer, and it’s gone mental this year with sponsors.

“We’ve got a TV production deal in place for the Masters in November, Sky TV are going to do a feature on the qualifying stages, and BBC are going to do a snippet too.

“We’re modelling the association around what Barry Hearn has done with darts and try to bring media exposure.

“It shows that the game of table soccer/Subbuteo is very much still here.”

More than 40 members have already joined the PTSA ahead of the first tour event which takes place in Manchester in May.

Stadiums that were used in the World Cup back in 2012 are being fitted with new pitches and goals from Italy for the tour, which has already attracted 10 sponsors.

Daniel added: “Everything is being really professionally run. We’ve got a homologation to cover what equipment to use and even a measuring tool for balls and players.

“We’ll have in-game stats at the events and we’ll have one game live streamed across the world from each section.”

A new iPad app and podcast are also to be launched soon.

Needless to say, I have now become a member. As more of a collector rather than a player, it remains to be seen whether I’ll make an appearance on the tour…

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