Shaun Murphy backed over controversial comments by two snooker icons – ‘How’s that fair?’

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Both Mark Selby and Mark Williams have stood by the comments of Shaun Murphy after he criticised amateur players being allowed to play in professional events.

Murphy found himself on the end of a shock result at this week’s UK Championship, after he was knocked out by Chinese amateur Si Jiahui 6-5 in the opening round.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live following his defeat Murphy said: “I am going to sound like a grumpy old man but that young man shouldn’t be in the tournament. It is not fair, it is not right.

“I feel extremely hard done by that I have lost to someone who shouldn’t even be in the building.

“I don’t know why we as a sport allow amateurs to compete in professional tournaments. This is our livelihood.

“This is our living. We are self-employed individuals and not contracted sportsmen. We don’t play for a team.”

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Following his post-match outburst many snooker fans were quick to slam the 2005 world champion, accusing Murphy of ‘sour grapes’ in the wake of his embarrassing loss.

However the 39-year-old did receive the support and backing of his fellow snooker stars, Selby and Williams agreeing with Murphy’s criticism of amateur participation in some of the sport’s biggest events.

World No 1 Selby said: “I think a lot of players agree with him.”

“Because he [Murphy] said it after he lost, people probably think it is sour grapes and he wouldn’t have said it if he had won – but I totally stand by everything he said.”

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Selby went on to add that if amateur players are to earn a spot in professional events, it should only be done via qualification from Q school.

He continued: “There’s a reason there is a Q School to try to get on [the professional tour], and if you don’t get on, you should have to wait another year and play in the amateur events.”

As well as Selby, Williams also echoed these sentiments by criticising the tournament’s current format to allow amateur, and insisted he had been ‘saying it for years’.

The three-time world champion said: “I have been saying it for years. It is a 128 [man] tour and we never get 128 entries.

“I think it should be smaller, definitely. I think if you make it on to the main tour, you should be guaranteed a living. The only way you can do that is by cutting it down.”

Williams also slammed the way in which amateurs are brought into professional events, with them often taking on some of the sport’s best, which in his eyes provides no development for snooker’s rising stars.

He added: “Where is the development? There are not many UK youngsters coming along because they are playing Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins and Judd Trump in the first round of tournaments. How are you going to progress with a draw like that?

“I texted [Jason] Ferguson [chairman of snooker’s governing body] the other day saying, ‘if you are going to have top-ups then stop the top-ups having every tournament’. How is that fair? There is no pressure and they are free rolling.

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