Ruling body incensed by O’Sullivan talk of breakaway
World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn has told Ronnie O’Sullivan his public outbursts have got to stop.
Five-time world champion O’Sullivan infuriated Hearn at the UK Championship in York on Sunday when he announced the idea of a breakaway circuit.
O’Sullivan, 43, cruised through to the last four at the Barbican with a 6-1 win against Martin O’Donnell yesterday.
“It’s damaging to the game when you’re talking to broadcasters”
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. 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 was not in a conciliatory mood after his win yesterday when asked if he would be meeting Hearn to discuss possible changes. “No, not really,” he said.
“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 Ron- nie 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.”
Meanwhile, Leicester’s Tom Ford reached his first UK Championship semifinal by beating Joe Perry 6-2.
Scotland’s Stephen Maguire exited the competition after losing 6-1 to Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen in the quarter finals.
STILL FOCUSED: Awkward moment for O’Sullivan but he still managed to cruise through against Martin O’Donnell yesterday