Ronnie O’Sullivan says he is in the early stages of planning a possible breakaway tour – but says he needs a number of top players to join him.
The five-times champion wants to form his own ‘Champions League’ style snooker tour to be played around the world – but for it to take off it would mean some players having to quit the established World Snooker tour.
As frequently reported on The Old Green Baize, O’Sullivan has stated his unhappiness about the way the tour is currently structured. He says there are too many competitions in the season, too much travelling, and has criticised tournament formats and venues.
O’Sullivan spoke of his plans on the same day he was strongly criticised by World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn after he claimed on Twitter that Chinese players Yu Delu and Cao Yupeng were treated too harshly by snooker’s governing body after being found guilty of match fixing. The pair received bans of ten years and six years respectively.
Speaking after his 6-5 win over Ken Doherty in the UK Championship, O’Sullivan said he would include the banned players in his proposed tour and said seven-times world champion Stephen Hendry would “come out of retirement” to be involved.
“I am just waiting for four or five unhappy players. I am ready to go and if someone offered me the opportunity to play on another platform, I would be gone tomorrow.
“I want to play in quality events, good venues against great players and that is what inspires me. The tour is fantastic for a lot of people but it is not for everybody.
“It is a chance to get John Higgins, the two Chinese players (Yu Delu and Cao Yupeng) who have been banned, and I know another couple of top-ranked Chinese players who are unhappy at the travelling they have to do, playing in qualifiers at Barnsley.
“Stephen Hendry is ready to come out of retirement and is up for it and three or four other good players. I would have to have a package in place but I need players.”
O’Sullivan will hope to do his talking on the table later this afternoon when he meets China’s Zhou Yuelong in the third round of the UK Championship.
On Sunday he came back from 4-1 down to beat 1997 world champion Ken Doherty in what was the pair’s first match in over eight years.
Meanwhile, a final frame century from Judd Trump on Sunday night did the business in securing his place in the third round – completing a 6-5 win over Dominic Dale.
There were also wins for Masters winner Mark Allen, Marco Fu and two times World Championship finalist Ali Carter.
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