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Ronnie O’Sullivan has called for the World Snooker Championship to be moved outside of the UK in a blistering attack on tournaments hosted in the country. The Rocket is currently aiming to win the English Open for the second time and breezed past Andrew Pagett in his first match on Monday.
The tournament is taking place at the Brentwood Centre, a leisure centre that is one of many venues used by the World Snooker Tour (WST) to host events on UK shores. However, O’Sullivan is a firm believer that such venues are not up to scratch, especially when compared to those in China or the Middle East.
The 47-year-old has even called for the WST to consider moving the World Snooker Championship away from the Crucible in order to stage it in a different country. He said: “Yes, I’d go with that. I would say to anyone putting on a tournament, there has to be a criteria, a level they have to come up with. Be accountable.
“This to me is not good enough, someone should be judging them and saying this is not suitable. If tournaments are like this, have every tournament in Asia, have every tournament in Saudi Arabia. It’s not even just snooker. Go Cathay Pacific or China Eastern when you fly.
“Our airlines are so down the pan. It’s just a different level. Maybe we are just falling apart as a country. Brexit, maybe we are done over here. Have the whole tour in China, keep us out there. Keep the World Championship here if you want. They don’t care any more here. When we had tobacco sponsors they were amazing and went out of their way for all the players.
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“Don’t just ask me, go and ask Stephen Hendry. Every event was like a special event. Now it’s like a car boot sale, and it hasn’t changed or got better in 12 years. It’s hard as a player to turn up at these tournaments and feel like you actually want to try. You do, as you have pride in performance.
“The venues here, and people walking up and down, the crowd… I’d like to see someone, a good promoter get hold of these tournaments and just make them a bit better. Nothing has really changed in 12 years, you go through the motions at these tournaments. I don’t want to be ultra-critical but sometimes the truth needs to be told.”
O’Sullivan went on to explain how he feels more appreciated at events in Asia when compared to those in the UK, adding: “I don’t know if you have had a look around this venue, been in the toilets… it’s not the greatest or most inspiring venue. 12 years I have been coming to venues like this and you think it’s never going to change.
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“For me, you go to Asia and you get really well looked after, fantastic venues, courtesy cars, security, you get to your match and away without being driven mad, hospitality is good and they get a lot more out of us as players because we feel like we’re being looked after properly, whereas here it can be a free-for-all.
“The customer service there is great. Who doesn’t want to be treated well and spoiled? There is a travelling element but I am prepared to do that and make those events count.”
The WST have since responded by insisting that their UK events ‘have grown massively over the past decade’, with their choice of venues ‘based on many factors including size and backstage facilities’. They also said that although they will always listen to feedback from players, they feel that ‘significant steps’ are being made to improve things looking to the future.
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