Ronnie also spoke yesterday with Desmond Kane (Eurosport) and hinted that he could – possibly – miss the World Championship 2018.
Ronnie O’Sullivan threatens to miss World Championship for reality TV
Ronnie O’Sullivan has revealed he could forfeit the chance to bid for a sixth World Championship due to his business interests off the table.
O’Sullivan has said he could be filming a second series of reality TV programme Hustle in Australia – where he plays pool against local players – when the sport’s biggest tournament begins on April 21 in Sheffield.
He has not missed a World Championship since his first appearance as a teenager at the event in 1993.
“Eurosport events are a priority for me,” said O’Sullivan after his emphatic 4-0 victory over world number 113 Duane Jones at the Northern Ireland Open. “The China events are a priority for me because of my commitment to sponsors.
“If I wasn’t to play in this year’s World Championships, or play in the UK. Or play in any of those tournaments like the German Masters, don’t be surprised. Because I know I can’t play every week.
“For me, I don’t need another UK, another world or another Masters. If my agent thinks it is right for me to go, I’ll go.
” It is a toss up whether I’ll do another Hustle or play in the World Championship in May. I can’t do both. “
“If I do another Hustle, I can’t really play in the World Championship.”
O’Sullivan is the sport’s leading money winner this season having won the English Open in Barnsley and the Shanghai Masters on Saturday. He has also lost finals at the Hong Kong Masters and the Champion of Champions.
“It is good that I’m doing well now because then it doesn’t really matter about the World Championships,” said O’Sullivan. “We’ll just have to wait and see. It is nice to have a safety net.
“I have to prioritise the events I play in. I want to do another Hustle because that is something away from snooker that I can do. There are no restrictions there.
“It is about getting the balance right. 17 days at Sheffield is okay if you win it, but if you don’t win it is a waste of time.
“For me, it is just about managing my time and my diary. I don’t think it is going to be possible to do the show and the World Championships because I have a few things I want to do at the end of May.
“I’ve got some other stuff to do in early June in China. I have a really great relationship with the people in China. It is more important that I put Hustle and that first.”
O’Sullivan has hinted that he would be open to sitting down and listening to a sponsor if there is the incentive of appearance money, a principle World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn has publicly rejected.
“For me, the World Championship is just another tournament. It is about doing what is right for Ronnie, not just being too focused on titles. That is the old me,” said O’Sullivan.
“If the terms are right and we can agree to certain stuff, there should be a way round it. If not, then Hustle is something that is on the table. Everyone enjoyed the last one in America. “
“There is loads of people who want me to do another one in Australia; I have to look beyond snooker. For me, this is just a shop window. It is tournaments rather than doing I’m A Celebrity. It is just keeping playing and having fun.
“I know people want to see my playing snooker, but there are other things I like to do away from snooker. Those are the reasons I’m happy today so why would I turn my back on something that has made me happy?
“If people can get round the table and come to some common sense..but it is difficult sometimes to come to that middle ground. You have to make some tough decisions.
“I probably have to give them six or seven weeks notice before they begin doing their research in Australia. They go out there and pick spots and places to go. Once the wheels in motion, you can’t let them down. Otherwise there won’t be another series of Hustle.
“Once I commit to it, I have to commit to it. If people want me there, they’ll get round the table sooner rather than later because it is never nice to leave it to the last minute.
“It is not just money, there are certain other things. My agent will sit down with me, and we’ll make the decision.”
O’Sullivan thumped Jones in a very one-sided encounter to reach the third round of the tournament and a last-32 meeting with Elliot Slessor on Thursday.
Obviously, as a fan, I want to see Ronnie play at the Crucible and it certainly wouldn’t be the same without him. But, at the end of the day, he’s nearly 42, it’s his life, his career, his future … and his happiness, therefore it’s his decision and his only. I still really hope things get sorted and that somehow he can do both.
And I don’t like the word “threatens”, he’s not threatening anyone.