Breakaway tour a ‘last resort’ – O’Sullivan
Betway UK Championship
Venue: York Barbican Dates: 27 November-9 December
Coverage: Watch live across BBC Two, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button, Connected TV, the BBC Sport website and mobile app from 1 December.
Ronnie O’Sullivan’s desire to form a “Champions League-style” breakaway series of snooker events is “nonsensical”, according to World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn.
Five-time world champion O’Sullivan said on Sunday he is unhappy with the number of events on the calendar and the travelling required.
Hearn told BBC Radio 5 live he was “incredulous” at the comments.
“I want to watch him play but I am getting tired of his remarks,” he said.
“It’s a nonsensical thought because Ronnie needs someone to play. But it is clear that not one single member of the 128 on the pro tour will trust their future to Mr O’Sullivan.”
‘He can ban me’
Following his UK Championship third-round whitewash over Zhou Yuelong on Monday, six-time UK champion O’Sullivan said he did not care if Hearn took disciplinary action.
“He can ban me,” O’Sullivan, 42, said. “If he wants to ban me tomorrow then I have already accepted that decision. I would rather walk away than live in fear about what I say.
“It doesn’t worry me what he says any more. He is on mute on Twitter and I don’t really have him in my thinking.
“I haven’t got too much time so either make the tweaks which will benefit everybody or don’t make the tweaks. I still have to be pro-active. But my gut feeling is nothing will change.
“It is simple, we need a few tweaks. Either do it or don’t do it. But if you don’t do it, I will look for alternatives because I still want to play.”
Hearn added he had got used to O’Sullivan having plenty to say in the media.
“He’s a genius on the table, but off the table sometimes he does get a little bit carried away and should perhaps be a little bit more mature,” he said.
“He is on another planet when it comes to his brilliance on the table, and when he talks about the business of snooker.
“Snooker has never been in a better place. Prize money has quadrupled in the past few years and players are happy. That’s not to say we can’t get better but we will do it as a group.
“I will certainly be speaking to him but will not be talking to him while in action in a major tournament. I want to him to play at his best.”
O’Sullivan breezes through Zhou match’Money is not an issue for him’
World number five Judd Trump said O’Sullivan’s comments were not representative of the rest of the players on tour.
“He’s living on a different planet to the rest of us,” the 2011 UK champion said. “Money is not an issue to him. He can take chances and has such a strong following that he will always be able to earn money in the game and away from the table when he retires.
“He’s a bit on his own there, I think. What Barry Hearn has done is amazing for us. Money is going up every year.
“I am more than happy with what is going on. For most of the players, I think we are all pretty happy.”
Six-time world champion Steve Davis said: “Ronnie is speaking for Ronnie. I don’t necessarily think he is speaking for the other 127 players on tour. Ronnie is an ambassador for the sport but I think people on the look up to him as a player on the tour but not what he says.”
Ken Doherty, the 1997 world champion, added: “Ronnie should stop moaning. It’s a lot tougher down the bottom than it is at the top. We have seen the bad times and these are the good times. Don’t knock the sport.
“Twenty years ago there were problems. Now the sport is in a good space.”
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