World Snooker has defended its choice for Crawley to host this year’s English Open – despite very strong public criticism from defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan.
The five-times world champion blasted the K2 Leisure Centre calling it a “hellhole” and said the placed smelled of “urine”.
His comments came after he beat Kurt Maflin in the opening round earlier today (Monday).
O’Sullivan said in a post match interview: “I don’t know what this gaff is but I’ve just done an interview and all I can smell is urine.
“It’s just got no atmosphere in there. I’m practising and I’ve got wires all around the table. There’s no security, you’ve got people running at you left, right and centre.
“It’s not the fans’ fault. They (World Snooker) obviously haven’t got the budget to run it properly. I don’t know where their budget is but they’re cutting corners. I think they should invest in good venues. Players deserve better.”
The previous two English Open tournaments were held in Manchester but World Snooker announced earlier this year that the tournament – the first in the Home Nations series – would move south of the country.
However, World Snooker has this evening hit back regarding O’Sullivan’s strong remarks – issuing a statement from themselves and in addition bosses of K2 Crawley.
The organisation has described the venue as excellent an that ticket sales for this year’s event have already bettered the two previous tournaments in 2016 and 2017.
World Snooker said: “We are surprised to hear these comments from Ronnie given that he has made no formal complaint and the feedback from the other players has been overwhelmingly positive.
And the partners we are working with on the event agree with our view that K2 Crawley is an excellent venue with very good facilities. There was a fantastic crowd in the arena today and the ticket sales for the event have already surpassed the total sales for 2016 and 2017. We look forward to seeing Ronnie play in the next round.”
K2 Crawley, the host venue for the tournament, added: “We are sorry and disappointed to hear that Ronnie has voiced some concerns over the venue, especially after feedback from everybody else has been so positive.
“We have been working closely with World Snooker to make this competition the best it can be and they are extremely happy with how the first day has gone, and in fact, we hear that ticket sales have already surpassed total numbers sold for all previous English Open venues. To be involved with this event is a privilege and we are pleased that K2 Crawley’s great accessibility and facilities will mean that more snooker fans than ever before can enjoy the tournament – we are certainly excited to see what the rest of the week holds!”
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