In two weeks time snooker's Players Tour Championship series hits the German town of Hamm. Here a significant event will occur, the return of disgraced three time world champion and former World Number 1 John Higgins.
On 2nd May this year, the day the World Championship final between Neil Robertson and Graeme Dott started, the sport was rocked to it's core by the revelation Higgins was alleged to have accepted a bribe to deliberately lose four frames during the current season. Having seen the News Of The World video myself, I didn't see how Higgins could escape from this.
However he did. Higgins' side of the story was that he believed the meeting which he and then manager Pat Mooney attended in Ukraine was with members of the mafia and he only agreed to the deal to get out of the meeting. Mooney was banned for life from World Snooker with Higgins suspended for six months.
Next month that ban ends and in December Higgins will play his first match in front of the TV cameras since the allegations as he competes in the UK Championship. What sort of reaction he will get from the crowd is anyone's guess. Is the reputation of one of the game's modern greats tarnished for ever? Almost certainly. Steve Davis said in an interview that some people still believe his famous 1985 World final against Dennis Taylor was fixed. If some still believe that after 25 years, there is no way Higgins will have won round the fans universally in half a year. Yes there will be fans who will want to move on from the situation, but others who won't.
It's also anyone's guess as to how he will play on his return. The last time he played professionally was a shock 13-11 defeat to Steve Davis in the World Championship second round in April. By the time the PTC event in Hamm begins, that will be seven months without playing in a competitive match. For someone of the many years of experience Higgins has, this may not be too much of a problem. However, you are likely to get very long odds on Higgins winning the tournament.
Only time will tell how the ban will affect Higgins' form and standing with the fans, but what is for certain is that there will be plenty of press interest when the UK Championship begins on December 4