Barry blasts Ron and in­sists rants dam­age im­age of game

Evening Times - - SPORT - BY MARK WALKER

WORLD Snooker chair­man Barry Hearn has told Ron­nie O’Sul­li­van his pub­lic out­bursts have got to stop.

Five-time world cham­pion O’Sul­li­van, who eased into the semi-fi­nals of the UK Cham­pi­onship yes­ter­day with a 6-1 win over Martin O’Don­nell at the Bar­bican, in­fu­ri­ated Hearn when an­nounc­ing the idea of a break­away cir­cuit.

But while O’Sul­li­van was clos­ing in on his 11th UK Cham­pi­onship semi-fi­nal, Hearn was telling a press con­fer­ence that the sport’s most mar­ketable player was harm­ing snooker and had to abide by the rules.

“It is dam­ag­ing to the game,” Hearn said. “When you’re talk­ing to ma­jor broad­cast­ers around the world, for them to read about ‘break­away’ – it’s a word that tips you away from the sport be­cause it’s con­tro­versy.

“So that is dam­ag­ing and that must stop. The rules are very spe­cific that it can’t take place and I’ll be talk­ing to Ron­nie about that.”

Hearn said that O’Sul­li­van had been in­vited to dis­cuss his com­plaints with World Snooker’s play­ers’ fo­rum.

“Ron­nie by na­ture does not like au­thor­ity,” Hearn said. “A lot of ge­niuses don’t like au­thor­ity - Alex Hig­gins was one that ig­nored au­thor­ity a lot - but we live in a so­ci­ety where the rules are the rules and we must obey them, or get them changed.”

Hearn added: “I want to put an arm around Ron­nie rather than hit him on the head with a rock be­cause he

needs to un­der­stand the way we work and we need to un­der­stand he may have some points that are wor­thy of con­sid­er­a­tion.

“It doesn’t mean we are go­ing to do any­thing be­cause we’re go­ing to run the sport for the ben­e­fit of 128 play­ers, not one.

“No one is big­ger than the sport. Not me, not Ron­nie O’Sul­li­van, not Steve Davis.”

O’Sul­li­van wants a play­ing sched­ule that is fairer on lead­ing play­ers, a dif­fer­ent way of al­lo­cat­ing rank­ing points and im­proved play­ing con­di­tions at venues he con­sid­ers re­mote.

He opened his quar­ter­fi­nal against O’Don­nell with a cen­tury break and sealed vic­tory with an­other, edg­ing closer to a record 19 tour­na­ment wins in ‘Triple Crown’ events – the World and UK Cham­pi­onships, and Masters.

But he was not in a con­cil­ia­tory mood af­ter­wards. When asked if he would be meet­ing Hearn to dis­cuss pos­si­ble changes to the way World Snooker was be­ing run, he said: “No, not re­ally.

“There’s no point. I’ve said what I had to say. There’s a tran­script out there. I’ve al­ready printed up all the points I think need chang­ing. I’ve spo­ken to a lot of play­ers and they all agree with me about the changes and I don’t see what hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion would do.

“I get that some other play­ers don’t re­ally want to put their names to it. I un­der­stand they might be a bit wor­ried about up­set­ting Barry.”

O’Sul­li­van was adamant that other play­ers sup­ported his ideas for change. He added: “I can’t keep be­ing sin­gled out as just Ron­nie that wants these changes, it’s just Ron­nie that’s moan­ing. I’ve brought it out into the open and we need more play­ers to put their name to it and put a bit of pres­sure on and see what hap­pens.”

Mean­while, Le­ices­ter’s Tom Ford reached his first UK Cham­pi­onship semi­fi­nal by beat­ing Joe Perry 6-2. Ford raced into a 4-0 lead thanks to breaks of 76 and 80 and did not al­low Perry to gain mo­men­tum de­spite the lat­ter scor­ing 121 to win frame five.

O’Sul­li­van stood by his com­ments de­spite Hearn (in­set) warn­ing

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