World Snooker issue statement after Ronnie O’Sullivan ‘breakaway tour’ comments

World Snooker has today released a statement stating snooker players have never had it so good in the entire history of the sport.

Though it does not refer to Ronnie O’Sullivan’s recent comments directly, the statement comes after the five-times world champion said he was planning a “breakaway tour” after being left frustrated with the structure and ranking system of the existing World Snooker tour.

O’Sullivan has told the world’s media in recent days that he is looking for a number of professional players to join him so he can form his own tour – which would see a number of events played around the world.

His main concerns have been regarding player burn-out with so many tournaments on the calendar, the amount of travelling with tournaments taking place around the world, the quality of venues and the format of tournaments.

Ronnie O’Sullivan. Picture by Monique Limbos

In addition, O’Sullivan has also called for a change to the current ranking system which sees prize money allocated for every ranking event performance.

Instead, the snooker megastar said he would like to see a players ranking position ‘averaged out’ based on performances over a certain period of time. 

O’Sullivan said: “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.”

Barry Hearn, chairman of World Snooker

But today World Snooker put out a statement on its website boasting the existing tour – saying snooker players earn more prize money than ever before.

It says: “Players throughout the World Snooker Tour are earning more prize money than ever before as the sport continues to grow worldwide.

“During the 2017/18 season a record £13.7 million was paid out. Those at the top are earning vast sums, with four players earning over £500,000 for the first time: Mark Williams (£898,776), Ronnie O’Sullivan (£888,000), John Higgins (£612,372) and Mark Selby (£565,085).

“Overall the top 16 earned £7.30m, a 29% increase on the previous season. Those ranked 17-32 earned £2.27m (42% increase), those ranked 33-64 earned £2.27m (46% increase) and those ranked outside of the top 64 earned £1.46m (45% increase).

“These figures reflect that fact that snooker’s commercial success has benefited all players, and that prize money increases have been spread out across the tour.

“In addition, entry fees for players to enter tournaments were abolished in 2017, reducing expenses significantly for all players.”

It then included comments from world number 96 Craig Steadman who said “there has never been a better time to be a player.”

When speaking to the BBC about the tour idea, O’Sullivan said the World Snooker tour needed tweaks to be made.

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