Ronnie O’Sullivan: “You look at the people actually managing the game, they are not the brightest sparks… So you can’t see them digging themselves out of it. But you don’t have to be Einstein. It is probably in the worst place it has ever been”
Last Updated: 21/03/23 2:51pm
Ronnie O’Sullivan says snooker is “in the worst place it has ever been” as part of an explosive rant against those running the sport.
World No.1 O’Sullivan equalled Stephen Hendry’s record of seven Snooker World Championship wins last year and is targeting an eighth at The Crucible next month.
But the tournament is set to be played amidst the backdrop of a match-fixing hearing the will begin midway through the event involving 10 Chinese players who have been suspended and charged with various betting offences.
O’Sullivan believes snooker is crying out for an injection of greater prize money in the sport and some fresh ideas, with frustration building over cancelled tournaments and eminent events in China still not being on the calendar post-Covid.
“Snooker is in a bad place,” he told The Sun. “It’s in trouble.
“Forget Turkey [the Turkish Masters was recently cancelled]. This needs at least another £50m a year just to make it a proper tour.
“When you look at the number, it’s bad. When you look at £10m prize money for 25 events across the year for 128 players, it’s never going to be good. It needs at least to triple that to make it work.
“Maybe you do need some proper people like Liberty [in Formula One] or someone with the vision to bring it up to date.
“You look at the people actually managing the game, they are not the brightest sparks either. So you can’t see them digging themselves out of it. But you don’t have to be Einstein.
“It is probably in the worst place it has ever been. The image of the sport, it’s a bit like a pub sport now.”
The 47-year-old added: “It is probably as bad as it has ever been also because of the betting scandal. There are a lot of players I know who are really unhappy and frightened to speak out because they will get fined. They are told that.
“The game is struggling, if you look at the numbers it is in a bad way. But we all want good for the game. I can’t do more.
“I have carried the sport pretty much for the last 20-30 years. It’s not one player. It’s the sport.”
World Snooker has responded to O’Sullivan’s comments, insisting there is a bright future for the sport.
A spokesperson said: “Last week we held a constructive meeting with the players, unfortunately Ronnie chose not to attend, where we set out our vision for the future of snooker and addressed issues which are important to the players.
“The outcomes were positive, and players were encouraged by the progressive strategy set out by WST [World Snooker Tour].
“WST is working diligently across many of the areas Ronnie has raised and is achieving considerable success as a result.
“We are working with the leading agencies in sports, whose clients include the Premier League, FIFA, Ryder Cup and The Masters. Our long-term strategy is based upon best-in-class analysis and driven by data. We would always welcome Ronnie to share his ideas and discuss our plans and strategy directly with WST.”