Nigel Slater reports on an interview with Barry Hearn on the BBC

You can read the full article here

This is an excerpt:


But speaking in a recent interview with the BBC, Hearn said O’Sullivan should think wisely before deciding to pull out of the 17-day event.

“Listen, we have a system that’s very clear to everybody – no player is forced to play in an event. The player’s contract is democratic – you can play if you want and if you don’t (want to) then don’t play.

“It’s his (O’Sullivan’s) choice not mine. I very much hope so (that he will play) and I think for Ronnie’s sake. Life is very strange, as you look over your shoulder when you get older – you don’t want too many ‘I should have done this’ moments on your mind.

“And missing something like the World Championship for a player like Ronnie O’Sullivan, who loves snooker, there’s no question about that in my mind. I believe we will see him there and if we don’t I think he’s making a bad choice. But I recognise it is his choice to make.”

This seems to be a rather balanced view indeed.

The basic line is that we all make decisions that we see as the best for ourselves at the time we make them. Sometimes we come to regret them, and sometimes, those regrets serve as a springboard for us to rediscover hunger and motivation for things we fell a bit out of love with.

We, as fans, have just to wait and see, and accept whatever happens. I don’t think people understand fully the level of pressure and expectations Ronnie has to cope with since 25 years and counting, not just from the fans, but from the media, from the sponsors and, last but not least, from his own perfectionist self as well.

10 thoughts on “Nigel Slater reports on an interview with Barry Hearn on the BBC

  1. I really do hope Ronnie plays in the World’s this year, but I get it if he chooses not to. He doesn’t have to prove he’s the best, anyone that knows the game can’t deny that. When Ronnie retires from snooker it’s hard to imagine anyone that will bring excitement to the game and bring out the fans like he does. Personally I don’t enjoy the tournaments as much when Ronnie doesn’t play, but he’s human and he shouldn’t play in them all. And I think he is well within his rights to ask for certain conditions…no different to top athletes in other sports. I do think Barry Hearn’s been great for snooker, but I think he should show a bit more loyalty to Ronnie because he has given more to snooker than anyone and it’s not always been easy for him with all the pressures not to mention how mentally exhausting the game of snooker can be. Whatever Ronnie decides I wish him the best.

  2. I think fans of course would like Ronnie to play, on the other hand, if he does not feel like playing for whatever reason, it will not be good for him to play or the fans to watch him, so that’s a no brainer. What might be mystifying is the way he talks about it and the reasons he gives. He said he may not play, because that would be the time to shoot another part of the Hustler in Australia. I think fans would much rather see Ronnie play snooker than another season of the Hustler, but it would be a business decision. However, after the Master’s he said he may not play the WC and in that case he might go to Australia to shoot the Hustler, because it would feel strange to stay at home while the WC is on TV. Now this sounds a little different (granted he said it after losing, while pretending he did not care about the loss). And in both cases he said that he would not play unless certain “terms and conditions” were met.

    What these terms and conditions would be nobody knows and I suppose this prompted Barry Hearn’s earlier statement that they won’t materialize either. So it is good to see a more balanced and actually neutral view on Hearn’s side this time, and as far as I’m concerned I really wish Ronnie stopped publicly floating this “I may not play” idea, made up his mind and when he did it, announced his decision. l also wish, everyone else stopped feeding this either way (saying oh, he will play/it does not matter whether or not he plays), because in no way it will help the making of a reasonable decision.

    • It’s easy to see why Ronnie would prefer Hustle over the WC. He said in a video that filming Hustle is a ton of fun, and playing the WC is a ton of stress. If he could be guaranteed to win the WC, I’m sure he would choose that over Hustle. But any other outcome other than winning the WC wouldn’t be worth the effort for Ronnie, and since he’s obviously not guaranteed to win, it wouldn’t be surprising at all if he were to take the “sure thing” in filming Hustle.

      Regarding the “terms and conditions” that Ronnie wants, I think he was talking about not having to play numpties in qualifying. I think he wants a system where the top players get a bye for at least 1 round…

      • I understand the problem with the qualifying (see also Monique’s post on the qualifying round for the Chinese Open), and would find it quite reasonable to let the top 16 or 32 get a straight entry, but the WC is exactly this kind of tournament, that does not require the top players to qualify. To say he would play the WC if he did not have qualify for the other tournaments is a little absurd and I don’t think he would suggest that.

        With all that I think everyone understands if Ronnie finds the WC to long, to stressful etc, even though tournaments one tries to win are by nature stressful. Fans will of course regret if he doesn’t play, but most will understand and in any case there is nothing they can do. It is I believe this continuous public flirting with the idea of not playing without saying this or that, what many might find irritating.

  3. No doubt Ronnie is under a lot more pressure than any other player. The 17 days of the World Championship is also a lot more time than Ronnie wants to spend at a tournament, especially one that he has already won 5 times before.

    Here’s a short but amusing Q&A with Ronnie ( ) in which (among other things) he responds that his least favorite question to answer is “When is your next tournament?” I think that part of the pressure Ronnie feels from his fans is their (understandable) desire for him to keep playing and winning tournaments, even though (in his mind) he has already won a lot this year. He dedicated himself to snooker for 2 straight months earlier this year and came away with an amazing 3 victories, but that’s not enough for us fans because we want him to keep playing and win more. Ronnie probably feels like no matter how much he accomplishes, it’s never good enough for the fans/media/etc.

    I think Ronnie’s been a bit miffed that people don’t take him seriously when he says he might skip Sheffield this year, and if he were to end up playing, he won’t want people to say “See, he wasn’t being serious after all.” He might feel at least a little bit compelled now to skip the event if for no other reason than to prove to everyone that he was being serious when he said he might skip it…

  4. Ronnie done a awful lot for snooker and barry hearn he now at a time when family and his life comes into it do all the things he has missed playing since he was 12 coming to practice for hours and on the road week ends,now is the time we all love Ronnie the best player ever and what l cant understand why he never got sports personalty of the year,he deserves that ,so ron live your life enjoe your simply the best lov yax

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