Today is the last of the 2022 Turkish Masters qualifiers and I will look at the outcome tomorrow. Ronnie won’t be there. Jason Ferguson as head of WPBSA is disappointed by his decision, but accepts it.
‘DISAPPOINTED’ – RONNIE O’SULLIVAN’S TURKISH MASTERS SNUB FAILS TO BRING DELIGHT TO SNOOKER CHIEFS
Ronnie O’Sullivan’s decision to opt out of playing in the inaugural Turkish Masters next month could cost him more money than the appearance fee he was demanding to play in Antalya, according to WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson. Ferguson has described O’Sullivan’s decision as “disappointing”.
Ronnie O’Sullivan has missed out on the opportunity to cash in by opting out of snooker’s inaugural Turkish Masters in a dispute over appearance money, according to the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association chairman (WPBSA) Jason Ferguson.
The world No. 2 has decided against travelling to the salubrious five-star Nirvana Cosmopolitan Hotel in Antalya next month because he was not offered any extra financial incentive by tournament promoters to participate.
The £500,000 Turkish Masters runs between March 7-13 and is live on Eurosport with a £100,000 winner’s cheque, but that has not been enough to tempt the sport’s biggest draw to board a plane in his 30th year as a professional.
O’Sullivan is the only player in the world’s top 16 to give the event a miss, much to the chagrin of organisers, with former world No. 28 Ferguson lamenting the short-sightedness of the thought process.
“Of course I am disappointed he did not enter and won’t be there. I know Ronnie has a huge number of fans in Turkey,” Ferguson said in an interview with the Sportsman. “And it is disappointing for them that they won’t see him.
“That said, they will be overjoyed with the rest of the players who make the trip, apart from that the entries were amazing – 15 of the top 16.
It sounds a far cry from O’Sullivan’s experience of the 2018 English Open at the K2 Leisure centre in Crawley when he said: “They put me by some toilet and I had to stand there for four or five minutes and all I could smell was urine.
“It was really quite off-putting, no-one wants to be subject to smelling urine.
YOU HAVE TO GO THROUGH THE MAIN FOYER – YOU DON’T WANT TO BE TRAIPSING THROUGH FAMILIES GOING SWIMMING WITH KIDS WITH SNORKELS AND FLIP-FLOPS ON AND YOU’RE ABOUT TO PLAY A MATCH OR TO DO A PRESS CONFERENCE.
Ferguson is adamant the sport has worked hard to improve conditions for the World Snooker Tour and said: “Ronnie has in the past said he doesn’t want to play in leisure centres and wants better venues – this is exactly that.
SO WE HAVE UPPED OUR GAME CONSIDERABLY AND GONE OUT TO PUT SOMETHING WORLD-CLASS ON, AND IT IS DISAPPOINTING HE WON’T BE THERE. I AM LED TO BELIEVE IT HAS GENERATED QUITE A BIT OF COMMENT IN TURKEY ON SOCIAL MEDIA THAT HE IS NOT LEADING THE CHARGE AS A HUGE STAR IN THE SPORT.
“If every top player did the same we might not have any of them there – but they wouldn’t, that’s the point. Top players love winning and competing – as does Ronnie, to be fair. We have some terrific players and people in snooker who give back, and I don’t struggle with the rest of the membership asking for five minutes here or 10 minutes there.
“But Ronnie is different, it is an individual sport and he has got his own agenda. From the governing bodies it has to be a level playing field, so we will never and cannot offer extra money.
“We can’t force people to play, all we can do is provide the opportunities for all from world No. 1 down to the kid that first walks in to a club.
“Ironically something Ronnie may not be aware of is how huge potentially that market and fan base is in Turkey.
“It is a big country with huge companies and I think he has missed out passing up the chance to go.
THE NUMBERS HE WAS ASKING FOR MIGHT HAVE PROVED PENNIES FINANCIALLY IN COMPARISON TO WHAT HE COULD HAVE GOT WHILE OUT THERE. WE’LL NEVER KNOW NOW.
O’Sullivan will return to snooker’s coveted No. 1 spot if he can claim the Players Championship title and a £125,000 top prize in Wolverhampton next week.
The sport’s GOAT earned appearance money from travelling to China in the pre-pandemic past, but has defended his decision to miss the season’s 13th ranking event
“I don’t really have any regrets about not being involved in the Turkish Masters and playing in the qualifiers,” said O’Sullivan, during his 38th ranking title success at the World Grand Prix in December.
A FIVE-STAR HOTEL ON THE BEACH ISN’T GOING TO ENTICE ME TO GET MY CUE OUT OF MY CASE AND ENTER A TOURNAMENT. I COULD PROBABLY GO ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD AND EXPERIENCE THAT – AND NOT HAVE TO BE SURROUNDED BY LOADS OF SNOOKER PLAYERS AND OFFICIALS!
“I could go to Hawaii or Dubai and get invited out there and have equally a great time. It is all about the value for my time and commercial decisions now. I am going to play 10 tournaments a season, because that is what I am contracted to do for my sponsors. I don’t have to play more.
“And if promoters want me to play in their events, then they’ll have to get on the phone and we can come to some sort of arrangement. If not I have got enough work on and enough things to do to keep myself busy. It is a business for me, and I thank World Snooker Tour for that because they have shown it is a business.
“That’s what they are doing, and that’s what the players are doing. Was I surprised they didn’t try and get me there? No, listen, I don’t get surprised by anything these days and take each decision as it comes.”
The “blue/underline” above is my doing.
I have the uttermost respect for Jason Ferguson who I have got to know on the tour. He’s extremely hard working, he loves his sport, and always has time for the players as he has been a player himself. I understand why he is disappointed. Ronnie’s presence in Turkey would have been a boost for the tournament, no doubts.
What surprises me a bit is that quotes from Ronnie as reported here suggest that he wasn’t aware that he would not need to go to qualifiers for this one anyway.
But other than that, he made his position clear: snooker is a job and a business and, now, in his mid 40s, he treats it like as such. He is in a position to choose, and he does. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t love competing and winning. He does, some of his reactions after winning show that much. I have no doubts about it, and Jason knows it as well. The thing is, snooker is not the alpha and omega of Ronnie’s anymore.
I know that many fans will be disappointed by Ronnie’s attitude, but the basic fact is that he is right. It’s a job and it’s a business. Not just in snooker, in all sports. Broadcasters, sponsors, and bookies make billions out of sport, managers to as well to an extend, the sportspersons, especially the big names, want their part of it, and it’s only right. Sports wouldn’t exist without them.
I know that a lot of fans want to believe that it should be all about winning and trophies. That’s naive and/or delusional. Unfortunately, many aspiring kids share those “romantic” views when considering a career in individual sport, only to be hit hard by the reality: nobody lives on thin air and hopes. Bills are waiting to be paid, they need a roof on their heads, they need food in their plate and money to travel to their job … because professional sport IS a job, one you can only successfully do for a limited time and one that does not entitle you to a retirement pension. Many very sucessful snooker players ended up in bankruptcy, even Stephen Hendry.
Some will tell me that Ronnie, by expressing his views, might discourage some youngsters to pursue their dreams. Possibly, but if their dreams aren’t strong enough to resist Ronnie’s opinions, they won’t survive the hard reality check either.