More snooker news – 09.10.2021

A bit “en vrac” this… whilst they finish the rigging in Belfast (hopefully it’s almost  finished by now)

On Yee Ng is finally on her way to the UK … safe trip On Yee!

OnYeeTravel

World Snooker Federation Championships have been announced and scheduled for February 2022:

Sheffield to Host 2022 World Snooker Federation Championships

The World Snooker Federation (WSF) is today delighted to announce the staging of the 2022 WSF Championships next February with two prestigious international tournaments set to offer direct access to the World Snooker Tour (WST).

Hugill won the WSF Open in 2020

The WSF working in partnership with the WPBSA, snooker’s world governing body, is now set to deliver the most significant amateur competitions held globally in our sport. This season’s event will again include the WSF Junior Championship (Under-18) previously won by China’s Gao Yang and the return of the WSF Championship, last won by England’s Ashley Hugill in 2020.

For the first time, the WSF Championships will be held in Sheffield, considered the spiritual home of snooker globally from 15-28 February 2022. The host venue for the tournament will be the state-of-the-art Ding Junhui Snooker Academy, with additional support provided by Victoria Snooker Academy as the host practice venue.

Both tournaments will once again be open to players of all nationalities and genders, with the winner of each to earn a two-year professional Tour card from the start of the 2022/23 season. Additional opportunities will be earned during the events where places will become available at the World Professional Snooker Championships.

Jason Ferguson, WSF President said: “We are today thrilled to be able to announce the return of the WSF Championships for 2022 as we look to build upon our successful 2020 event in Malta.

“The city of Sheffield is a location synonymous with the rich history of our sport and there can be no greater inspiration for the players who will be competing from all over the world than the sight of the iconic Crucible Theatre nearby.

“In particular, we are delighted to be able to work with two world class snooker facilities, which are both regularly used by some of the world’s leading players on the World Snooker Tour. Together with our city partners with whom we have worked with for many years, we are extremely excited to be able to deliver a fantastic snooker event for all amateur players.

“Our aim at the WSF is to provide more opportunity for players with the ambition to achieve their dreams.”

Entry for both tournaments will be made through WPBSA SnookerScores with further information to be released in due course.

The good news of course is that it’s happening. It’s good to have more amateur snooker back, Sheffield is a great place and those two academies are top class facilities. But … it’s in England, and once again it will be easier, less costsly, less travel hassle, and no administrative paper work for the British players.  I do hope that this is only because of the ongoing crisis, because organising events in the UK is easier at the moment for those in charge, and that the trend will not continue in coming year, but this choice of location is only reinforcing the already existing “UK bias”. Remember guys … W in your acronym stands for “World”.

WST has already announced Jamie O’Neill withdrawal from the 2021 Northern Ireland Open. Their livescores pages show that Tom Ford has withdrawn as well. Mark Williams, on the other hand, is still scheduled to play.

Finally … I’m not expecting anything from this tournament. The top 16 seeds will all be “rusty” as they haven’t played competitively for a long time. It’s hard to predict anything.

Judd Trump seems to have the easiest “quarter”, with the notoriously volatile Maguire and Mark Allen who has a terrible record in his “home” tournament.

In the second quarter, there is a real opportunity for either Shaun Murphy or Stuart Bingham as Neil Robertson hasn’t played at all competitively since the World Championship and had other things on his mind… including the small matter of getting married.

Ronnie hasn’t an easy draw: both Stuart Carrington and Andy Hicks are the kind that could cause him problems in the early rounds. Yan Bingtao, Ali Carter and Kyren Wilson are in that quarter as well.

The last quarter is probably the hardest of all, featuring Mark Selby and John Higgins as well as the two men who have won the first two events of the season, David Gilbert and Mark Williams (if he’s able to walk …).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Judd Trump: pool, shorter formats and moving the World Championship

Judd Trump is going to play in the US Open Pool Championship next week. It’s a Matchoom event. Of course the move has attracted the attention of the media, and Judd took the opportunity to once again air his views on what the future of snooker should be: shorter formats, more like pool and moving the World Championship away from the Crucible and towards a “big” venue. You read it here:

Judd Trump on his chances at pool next week:

‘Deep down I know I can’t win it’ – Judd Trump testing the waters with US Open Pool Championship entry

“I’m going there to see if I could ever do it more, if I could play pool and go back to snooker and not lose too much feel or anything,” he sai, . “It’s a feeler event to go out there and test the water. “Deep down I know I can’t win it, but I’m getting a cue, I’ve got somewhere to practice for the next three days, I’ve got a table when I arrive so I can get going straight away.”

Judd Trump says his trip across the Atlantic for the US Open Pool Championship is to test the waters, and he would be happy to win one game.

There is a gap in the snooker calendar due to the cancellation of the Turkish Masters, and it opened up a window for Trump to enter the eight-ball event.

Trump will face Joe Magee in his opening match on Monday, but is not expecting much as his practice has been non-existent and he does not even possess a pool cue.

I’d be happy to win a game,” Trump told the Metro. “We left it so late and I’ve just tried to experiment and do as much as I can with no snooker tournaments going on.
I’ve not even got a proper cue at the minute. I haven’t played since I was a kid, really. I expect absolutely nothing.”

The US Open is the most prestigious pool tournament on the calendar, and Trump is hoping to make a positive impression to open up the prospect of mixing sports.

“I’m going there to see if I could ever do it more, if I could play pool and go back to snooker and not lose too much feel or anything,” he said. “It’s a feeler event to go out there and test the water.

I don’t like going with the attitude that I’m just there to enjoy it, that’s not what I’m about, I like going there knowing I can win it.

Deep down I know I can’t win it, but I’m getting a cue, I’ve got somewhere to practice for the next three days, I’ve got a table when I arrive so I can get going straight away.

Trump has spoken about trying to modernise snooker, and he feels pool is more suited to his forward-thinking approach.

It’s something I want to be involved with,” Trump said. “It’s much more up to date, more modern and more in line with the year we’re in and values I want and who I want to appeal to.

To be a worldwide sport you’ve got to have the backing of America, I think. Pool has the potential to do that, whereas snooker is still struggling, that’s why I’ve gone over there to suss out the market and see what can be done.

There’ll be a lot more noise. It’s not good when you’re losing and I’m probably going to lose so it’s not good for me, but when you get on a winning streak in that kind of environment you can feel invincible.”

Judd TRump about moving te World Championship away from the Crucible and making it shorter.

Judd Trump: The World Snooker Championship needs to move on from the Crucible

Betfred World Snooker Championship - Day Five
Judd Trump feels the World Snooker Championship could do with a new venue (Picture: Getty Images)

Judd Trump believes it is time for the World Snooker Championship to move on from Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre, feeling that the pinnacle of the sport deserves a bigger venue.

The World Championship has been held at the Crucible since 1977 and has become the sport’s spiritual home, with the likes of Stephen Hendry, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Steve Davis winning all their world titles there.

However, it is a relatively small venue with a capacity of around 1,000, less than half the number that Alexandra Palace in London can accommodate for the Masters, for example.

Trump accepts that the uniquely tight conditions the Crucible provides helps create the special atmosphere in the room, but also feels that snooker bosses should look to expand if they want to grow the sport.

‘It’s an amazing venue but is it the best place for the World Championship now? Probably not, I don’t think,’ Trump told Metro.co.uk.

‘It needs an historic, prestigious event there, maybe put the UK Championship there but the Worlds needs to go to a bigger venue, for me.

The pinnacle of the sport shouldn’t be held back spectator-wise, there should be thousands! If you can sell the Masters for 2,200 people, the Worlds should be getting 5,000 at a massive stadium or arena, not a little theatre.

‘I know it brings the excitement with the crowd so close, it makes you more nervous but I think they could do that on a bigger scale somewhere else. It’s the World Championship, everyone’s going to be excited, everyone’s gearing up for it all year, but I think it’s just a little bit held back.

The 2019 world champion was speaking after Neil Robertson suggested a reduction in the length of matches in the semi-finals and final of the World Championship, with the Australian also suggesting playing the first few rounds elsewhere before returning to the Crucible for the one-table set-up.

Robertson was making the point that casual or non snooker fans will struggle to stay engaged over matches that last four sessions and Trump agrees that changes are needed to attract new supporters.

Nobody wants to make changes, but Neil’s not saying that for his benefit, he’s thinking of a bigger picture,’ said Judd. ‘He knows that to play snooker over two days, four sessions, the die-hard fans watch it, but the people who we want to appeal to, to grow the sport aren’t going to watch all four sessions.

‘They’re going to come in at the last session and watch the end, it doesn’t really get going until it gets to like 12-12 or something like that. I can see where he’s coming from.

‘The format needs to be long, it needs to be two or three sessions, but first to 18 might be a bit too long these days.

World Snooker Championship - Day 17
Trump beat John Higgins to win the World Championship title at the Crucible in 2019 (Picture: Getty Images)

The semi-finals taking three days…a round should never take longer than the final. I’ve played in second round matches that take three days, which is absolutely ridiculous.

‘Three sessions is enough, you could even do it in a day, play 10am, 2.30pm and 7pm and have it done in a day. I think it could capture the audience more.

‘Going to the first day of a match is not the same as seeing the outcome. I wouldn’t go to, say, golf and just watch the first 12 holes and not the finale. I wouldn’t watch the first set in tennis then not the rest of the match.

‘Probably from a commercial point of view, extending the tournament makes more money, sells more tickets, better viewing figures, but the game could head in a different direction in that tournament.

The Ace enjoys playing at the Crucible and recognises the vast history connected with the venue, but strongly believes it is in the good of the game to move on and try new things to attract new fans.

It’s such a special event with so much history behind it, but unless you were around in that era…I don’t think kids these days go back and watch the 1978 or 1980 final. I know I don’t,’ he said.

Stephen Hendry and Jimmy White
Stephen Hendry and Jimmy White have contested some memorable Crucible matches (Picture: Getty Images)

It’s an amazing place to play snooker, it’s hard to say and a lot of people won’t like it, but maybe put another tournament there and move the World Championship somewhere else, or maybe you could have it there every couple of years at first.

‘Neil’s not saying what he said to benefit himself and neither am I, it’s beneficial for the future of snooker. People aren’t going to like it now but you’ve got to think about 10 years’ time.

‘To grow the game it’s got to go to a bigger venue. It’s not an easy change to make and the Crucible will always be attached to snooker and should have a tournament there, but I’m not sure it should be the World Championship.

Judd Trump Neil Robertson
Trump and Robertson are in agreement that they would like to see the World Championship shaken up (Picture: Getty Images)

Trump has been happy to speak out about the future of snooker in the past, telling Metro.co.uk earlier this year that dress codes, commentary and the marketing of the game all need to be shaken up.

On taking over from Barry Hearn as World Snooker Tour chairman this year, Steve Dawson said he was looking forward to talking with Trump about his ideas for the future.

‘The door is always open,’ Dawson told the BBC in April. ‘It will be good fun to talk.

‘There are formal channels which players should go through but there is no reason why we shouldn’t listen to players and groups of players and their ideas.’

Asked whether that chat has taken place yet, Trump says is hasn’t, but understands that it has been a difficult time for snooker chiefs, trying to get tournaments organised as the impact of the pandemic rumbles on.

‘Not yet. I think it will happen in time,’ said Trump. ‘At the moment it’s been quite quiet, it’s probably stressful them with not many tournaments and people moaning that they can’t earn money.

It’s nobody’s fault but it’s a bit of a struggle and stressful time for a lot of people at the moment. They’re obviously working hard behind the scenes but as soon as we can start getting back to tournaments again and crowds back in, and we know it’s not going to be taken away at any given moment, then that’s when we can really get into the nitty gritty and give our opinions on how we can grow the game for the benefit of snooker.’

Trump believes it is not just his opinion that needs to be heard, but all players should have more of a say on how the game is run.

The world number two has the whole of September off as the Turkish Masters was postponed and the top 16 now go straight to the venue for Home Nations events, with qualifiers brought back in for those outside the elite, which take place this month.

The change was brought in for this season and the former World, Masters and UK champion feels players should get a say on such things.

It is quite hard because players don’t really get a say in anything,’ he said. ‘For me, there should have been a vote over whether players want to play in qualifiers or not, but it’s just done instantaneously, all of a sudden a letter’s sent out and people have to go to qualifiers.

‘Everything is brought upon players so fast and I think players need more of a say in stuff.

OK, in short, here are my views:

  • If Judd wants to grow snooker then he should make sure that snooker remains snooker and is not made to look more like pool, be it when it comes to the rules, the dress code, the atmosphere. If people want to watch pool, they will attend pool events.
  • Formats should certainly NOT get shorter. I would go back to best of 9 as the standard, maybe event best of 11. I want the best players to get through, I want tension to build. I’m a traditionalist, not a sensationalist (or a gambler) loving “shocks”.
  • The format of the World Championship offers a unique challenge and should stay. There are two changes I would want to see though: a return to the best of 31 for the SFs – to possibly avoid the very late SF2 night finish – and the Final to conclude on a Sunday, not on a Bank Holiday Monday, which is only a holiday in the UK. If WST has serious ambitions to make snooker global the latter is a must.
  • The Crucible is an iconic but inadequate venue in many respects: it’s cramped, it’s too small, it’s poorly ventilated, it offers little room for hospitality. However, IF the World Championship is to be moved, it should be moved around the World, not just more or less permantly moved somewhere else in the UK. The BBC would probably never agree to such change though.
  • Putting the World Championship or any snooker event in a big 5000 seats stadium is just preposterous. Already at the Tempodrom, if you are sat in the rafters, the table looks very small and you need good eyes … There is no point to be sat in a big venue, and to pay good money, only to have to watch on TV screens to see the action properly. If it comes to that, you’ll be more comfy at home … maybe with a very good bottle of wine that will cost you (much) less than the price of the ticket + travel + hotel.

In principle I would agree on a vote on qualifiers. However, no qualifiers would mean, having to travel to the main venue for all, and this in turn would mean added costs for the UK players, whilst it would stay the same, or be cheaper for the “oversea’s” players and for this reason I’m afraid that, even if nobody likes qualifiers, they would still stay because UK players are a majority, and the current UK centric bias would only be reinforced by the fact that it would then be the result of a “democratic vote”… and that UK bias in turn is one of the reasons why the UK players continue to be a majority. It’s a vicious cercle.

The only way to get out of this vicious cercle would be to scrap qualifiers, play the tournaments as a whole at or near the final venue, and to pay basic fees to the first round losers, not counting towards rankings, but covering basic expenses. It would only be right: you need two to play a match of snooker. As long as they give it their best, the losers contribute to the event, entertain the fans, generate money for the broadcasters, sponsors and venue management. they should get something for it, it should not cost them. It’s not “rewarding mediocrity”, it’s paying for a work done.

Having said all that, good luck to Judd at next week event, and safe trip.

Jason Francis discloses Important News

Jason Francis was on Facebook live yesterday to disclose some important news. For those who don’t have acces to facebook, here is his announcement.

There are a lot of  “news” in there: pro-ams. junior competitions with a handicap system, seniors tour news, Ronnie’s shop, and a return of the Legends events.

What Jason does to promote snooker is fantastic. Unfortunately because of  circumstances out of his control (Covid and Brexit) , it will once again mainly benefit UK based players. As a mainland Europe snooker fan, I write this last sentence not as a criticism to Jason, far from it, but with some sadness.

The part specific to Ronnie stuff is the last one in the video. He will play in three “Legends events” alongside Reanne Evans, Stephen Hendry, Ken Doherty and Jimmy White.

Some dates clash with main tour events: the shoot-out and the Gibraltar Open.

There are also other announcements, detailed in the comments section, and again, for those who can’t acces Facebook, here are screenshots:

2021-09-07 Ronnie announcements -12021-09-07 Ronnie announcements -32021-09-07 Ronnie announcements -2

Regarding the Seniors Tour news, you will find more details here.

It’s a one hour long video but well worth the listen from start to finish.

 

 

Barry Hearn steps down …

Yes, Barry Heaern is retiring … although he will remain involded to an extend 

The news has been confirmed on WST site:

Barry Hearn OBE Steps Aside

BARRY HEARN OBE STEPS ASIDE AS EDDIE HEARN BECOMES MATCHROOM SPORT GROUP CHAIRMAN

Eddie Hearn will become Chairman of the Matchroom Sport Group of Companies as Barry Hearn OBE steps aside after almost 40 years to become President of the Group in an advisory role, dealing primarily with event strategy and global development.

Barry and Eddie Hearn with Steve Davis

Eddie will become Chairman of the Group of Companies and Chairman of Matchroom Sport, Professional Darts Corporation, Matchroom Boxing, Matchroom Boxing USA, Matchroom Media and the PGA EuroPro Tour.

Also, in the group, Steve Dawson will take over from Barry as Chairman of the World Snooker Tour after this year’s World Snooker Championship.  Matthew Porter will become Chairman of Matchroom Multi Sport and Katie Hearn CEO of Matchroom Media.

Hearn founded the sports promotions company back in 1982, enjoying huge success with Snooker before moving into Boxing, Darts, Pool and Tenpin Bowling amongst more than a dozen different sports.

Through the 1990s Hearn turned several niche sports into major TV attractions with a succession of innovative ideas.  His acquisition of a majority shareholding in the PDC in 2001 and the World Snooker Tour in 2010 saw him appointed Chairman as both companies went from strength to strength.

Matchroom supplies a wide range of sports programming to broadcasters worldwide, producing over 3,000 hours of action annually across over 600 event days in addition to original documentaries and shoulder programming for all platforms.

Following several years in the sponsorship and event management industry, Eddie Hearn joined Matchroom Sport in 2004, he assumed the role of Chief Executive of the PGA EuroPro Tour and subsequently headed up Matchroom Sport’s rapidly expanding poker and online gaming operations.  With the swift growth of the company in recent years Eddie has assumed the role of Group Managing Director and will now become Group Chairman.

Eddie’s most notable public face is as the head of Matchroom’s Boxing division, promoting a stable he has grown, and which is littered with World Champions and Olympic gold medallists.

Under Eddie’s leadership, Matchroom Boxing has returned to the forefront of the sport around the world.  In 2018 he agreed a historic $1billion deal with live streaming platform DAZN to stage 16  fights a year across America under Matchroom Boxing USA.

Barry Hearn OBE said: “It has been a huge honour to have worked with some of the greatest sports people on the planet across the last 40 years and enjoyed so many wonderful experiences across our spectrum of events in that time, from snooker’s glory days of the 1980s to record-breaking boxing shows and the incredible growth of professional darts, as we have created opportunities for thousands of sportsmen and women during that time.

“Great challenges have been met, but none more so than the Covid pandemic.  I have been determined to stay in charge until this disaster passed and now there is light at the end of the tunnel and I believe it is the right time to pass control of Matchroom to my son Eddie and the brilliant teams we have assembled across all our activities.

“I shall continue to be available to all Matchroom companies as non-executive President, an advisory role concentrating on group strategy and global expansion, but Eddie will be elevated to Group Chairman with overall responsibility for the entire group.

“I could not be prouder of the Matchroom Group of Companies and the outstanding teams that operate in a highly competitive marketplace.  Matchroom has grown from two employees operating in an office under a snooker hall in Romford in 1982, to the global powerhouse it is today due to the efforts and performances of all our staff, contractors, broadcasters, and partners.

“I know the company is in good hands with Eddie at the helm and with my daughter Katie heading up Matchroom Media, Matt Porter at the PDC, Frank Smith at Matchroom Boxing, Emily Frazer at Matchroom Multi Sport, Steve Dawson my Chief Executive for over 30 years and Dan Godding at the PGA EuroPro Tour, along with all their teams.

“Now is the time to give all Matchroom employees the opportunity to take this great British company to the next level and beyond”.

Eddie Hearn commented:  “Anyone that knows me is well aware of what Matchroom means to me and our family. It has a legacy that spans 40 years from a small office under a snooker hall in Romford to a global powerhouse of sports entertainment. My father has dedicated his life to the company and since I joined in 2004 I have done the same. Now a greater responsibility falls on my shoulders and I am very proud to continue his great work and lead the business and the incredible team that we have built at Matchroom. We have seen astounding growth in the last ten years but we have only just begun. I look forward to continuously evolving and continuing the global growth of this astonishing family business.”

It was always going to happen of course, but I didn’t expect it to happen now.

I’m not sure it’s good news for snooker at all. Eddie Hearn’s focus until now has never been snooker, it’s mainly been boxing. Time will tell of course but I’m not too optimistic.

Crucible 2021 – More detailed infos about tests and safety measures.

WST shared this information aimed at ticket holders yesterday 

Crucible Ticket Holders: Testing Information

Ahead of the Betfred World Championship which starts on Saturday, we are now able to provide more information about the Covid-19 testing requirements for all fans who come to the Crucible.

The tournament in Sheffield, which runs from April 17 to May 3, is part of the Event Research Programme, and Covid-19 testing is one of the measures taken to reduce risk of transmission.

The following information has been emailed to fans:

Prior to attending the event, you must take a Covid-19 rapid lateral flow test at a Local Authority Asymptomatic Testing Site close to where you live or work. If you are travelling from outside of Sheffield, you must take this test prior to travelling. For attendees of multiple event days, you must take a test prior to the first event you attend, and then every third day thereafter. (To clarify, if you test on Friday to attend on Saturday morning, you would need your next test on Monday).

When you attend the Crucible, you will need to bring a text message or email confirming a negative lateral flow test result, photographic identification, which you’ll produce alongside your test result, and email confirmation that you have provided your consent using the online consent form.

A link to find your local rapid lateral flow test site is provided here. Please note that many of the lateral flow test centres offer a booking system, rather than a drop-in facility. Please be aware that some testing sites only operate Monday to Friday.

From Friday 16th April a limited drop-in facility will be available at the Sheffield Hallam University for attendees resident in the Sheffield area. Ticket holders attending multiple event days, and requiring multiple lateral flow tests, will also be able to use this site. You must bring your World Championship ticket with you to gain access to the testing site. To ensure you are able to receive your test result in good time, please look to attend the testing site one day prior to attending your event.

The Sheffield Hallam testing facility will be open as a minimum Mon – Fri: 09:20 am – 12:20pm, 1:30pm – 4:50pm. Sat, Sun: 10am – 2pm. Further information on how Covid-19 testing works at Sheffield Hallam can be found here.

Audience participation in this event is possible as it is part of the Event Research Programme (ERP) this will help to gather essential evidence to inform the government’s decision around Step 4 of the roadmap to lift lockdown, and will support the phased return of fuller audiences to venues and events up and down England. In order to collect the important evidence required to support the return of audiences we request that all participants undertake both a pre and post event PCR test in addition to the lateral flow test referenced above.

Participants are requested to take one pre-event PCR test as close as possible to their attendance at the event, and one PCR test 5 days after the event (or final event attended, if attending over multiple days). Both PCR tests can be conducted at home and returned by post.

A link to how you request these is provided here. Scroll down to the button which says ‘GET A FREE PCR TEST’ (start now). For this application you are not Key Workers, and on selecting No, you can scroll to the bottom and click continue. Continue through the questions and select that you are taking part in Contact Testing Study. Participants have permission to use this link to order their PCR tests for ERP research purposes, even if they are not displaying Covid-19 symptoms. Please be aware that this is a separate request to the Covid-19 rapid lateral flow test required for your entry into the Crucible Theatre.

With all this into place, I strongly doubt that any session will actually be at full capacity.

Meanwhile, Ronnie spoke to Eurosport about what his mother went through as she battled covid-19.

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP 2021: ‘CRUCIBLE SEAT ISN’T WORTH RISK’ – RONNIE O’SULLIVAN ON MUM’S COVID BATTLE

Ronnie O’Sullivan is keen to see snooker fans return, but is concerned about throwing open the Crucible Theatre doors to spectators with the UK’s death toll passing a bleak 150,000 on Tuesday. The defending world champion is proud of how his mum Maria fought off Covid-19 on a ventilator at home, but feels the threat of excited “smotherers” pose a serious risk to players, officials and fellow fans.

By Desmond Kane

Ronnie O’Sullivan feels proud. Ahead of a 29th successive appearance at the World Championship in Sheffield, one might suggest such a sensation is hardly surprising for the sport’s greatest player of all time.
But his pride has nothing to do with ending a seven-year wait to lift his sixth world title last August, reaching five ranking finals this season, his top seeding at the Crucible this year or becoming the first man in history to compile 1100 centuries.

WC2013-ROS-Mum-SisterThese are all trivial, irrelevant and facile facts compared to the clear and present danger of Covid-19, an illness O’Sullivan has been closer to than the cue ball in recent times.
He admits he is proud of his mum Maria, her attitude and fighting spirit in battling the disease on a ventilator at home rather than going to hospital when all looked lost.

He also uses Maria’s experience as a timely reminder about the damage the illness can cause to unsuspecting victims.
As pubs, hair salons and retail re-opened in England on Monday, snooker’s biggest headline act cannot help but shudder at the notion that the UK is suddenly out of the danger zone.
He is not an expert epidemiologist, but he can speak as much from personal experience about society’s plight as working out his next positional shot.

My mum was on a ventilator at home,” said O’Sullivan. “She had to take proper medication. We were lucky and privileged that I was able to call on a doctor who was keen to keep her out of hospital.

“He said: ‘I think she is going to be okay, Ronnie, but buy this, do this and do that.’ She was able to nurse herself better. I was able to go around there to make sure she was alright.
“We were lucky. She did say to me at one stage: ‘I need to go to the hospital, ring me an ambulance’.
“But I said: ‘Let me get my doctor around first’ because I didn’t want to take her to a hospital unless she had to go.
“Once you get into the hospital situation, it could be a worse problem for you.

SO I WAS LUCKY THAT MY DOCTOR WAS ABLE TO ADVISE, KEPT AN EYE ON HER IN THE EARLY DAYS AND SAID: ‘LOOK, I THINK SHE IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT’. THAT WAS IT. SHE RESPONDED WELL AND I WAS PROUD OF HER THAT SHE WAS ABLE TO COME THROUGH IT.

Others of course have not been so lucky with the death toll in the UK reaching a tragic, bleak and shocking milestone of 150,000 on Tuesday since the first national lockdown came into effect last March.
In a candid and open interview with Eurosport, O’Sullivan remains none the wiser about how his mum contracted the virus.
But he feels it acts as a warning to everyone about how potent a threat Covid remains in the UK amid the ongoing global pandemic.

When this first happened she was talking to me around corners in the house. Like a lot of people, quite paranoid about getting it,” he explained.
“I said: ‘Mum, chill out, go for some fresh air, go for a walk and just stay away from people.’

SHE WAS REALLY CAREFUL, BUT ‘BANG’, THEN SHE GETS IT. YOU CAN JUST BE UNLUCKY WITH THIS ILLNESS. TOUCHING A SURFACE OR SOMETHING. SHE HAS BEEN THROUGH IT ALL. I’M JUST RELIEVED SHE HAS RECOVERED.

O’Sullivan played last year’s final before a crowd of around 300 at the 980-seat Crucible due to Covid restrictions on his way to an 18-8 win over Kyren Wilson in the final that saw him join Steve Davis and Ray Reardon on six world titles.
It looks like being a lot different with the sport’s diminutive hothouse brimming to full capacity for this year’s final in early May as part of a government pilot scheme to allow fans back to venues this summer.

The Crucible will be at 33% for the first round, 50% for the second round, 75% for the quarter-finals and semi-finals before reaching full capacity of just under 1,000 for the final on 2-3 May.

Testing will be in place, but only the first-round matches will witness any social distancing in a sport that has been marooned in Milton Keynes without the public since O’Sullivan’s victory in Sheffield.

He doesn’t see the benefit of winning what has been described as “a golden ticket” by being squeezed closer together than the pack of reds inside the Crucible.

If they choose they want to go and sit next to each other, that is fine,” said O’Sullivan, who opens the 45th staging of the Crucible tournament against a qualifier on Saturday morning at 10am (BST).

FOR ME PERSONALLY, I WOULDN’T BE BUYING A TICKET TO GO AND SIT NEXT TO SOMEONE ANYWHERE FOR THE NEXT TWO OR THREE YEARS. THAT IS JUST MY PERSONAL PREFERENCE. I JUST WOULDN’T FEEL COMFORTABLE DOING IT UNTIL YOU KNOW THE LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF THIS ILLNESS, I WOULDN’T WANT TO TAKE THE RISK.

From what I’ve heard so far, I just wouldn’t want to get it. In another few years, if you discover one in five million get it really bad then you chances are if you get it, you aren’t the one in five million.
“But nobody knows the levels or damage it can do. It’s okay getting Covid, but the long Covid is the one you want to avoid.

O’Sullivan is keen to entertain the sport’s fans, but is urging them to maintain distance from each other, officials and the players in and around the Crucible.
In an invisible war with a silent killer armed only with hand sanitizer and face masks, O’Sullivan has berated potential “smotherers” who are more interested in themselves than maintaining social distance.

Everything is fine as long as there is no smothering going on. That’s the only issue. As long as everybody keeps their distance, it is fine,” he insisted.
It’s not at the venue that’s the problem, it’s going to be coming out the stage door at the Crucible, getting to the hotel in Sheffield..just going about your normal business.

I JUST HOPE THE SMOTHERING DOESN’T HAPPEN BECAUSE PEOPLE GET TOO EXCITED AND SEE SOMEONE IF THEY ARE A (MARK) SELBY FAN, OR A JUDD TRUMP FAN OR A NEIL (ROBERTSON) FAN. THEY’LL RUN OVER THERE AND THEY START BREATHING, SNEEZING OR COUGHING OR WHATEVER. THEN SUDDENLY YOU GET THE COVID BECAUSE YOU’VE BEEN SMOTHERED.

It is how they manage the excitement of the fans and the people that surround the Crucible in Sheffield.

We all want to see the fans back at the venue, but there has got to be no smothering. If that can be done, then I don’t see any issues. But is that going to be the case? I doubt it.

O’Sullivan – who at the age of 44 years and 254 days became the second oldest world champion of all time behind 45-year-old Reardon’s 1978 win – enjoyed his sojourn to Sheffield for last year’s delayed event as he used the Covid-19 restrictions around the Yorkshire city to stay nearer the venue while enjoying daily runs.
He is hoping the sport’s organisers will think of the players’ well-being in getting in and out of the Crucible with minimal fuss this time.

It would be nice if World Snooker Tour can give the players some sort of level of protection so they’re not left to their own devices to have to deal with that situation,” he said.
If you are going to allow fans, you then have to got to think: ‘How do we get players in and out of the venue safely?’
“When they’re not playing, that’s down to the players.

THEY’VE GOT TO BE CAREFUL WHERE THEY GO AND WHAT THEY DO, BUT DURING MATCH OR PRACTICE TIME WHEN THEY’VE GOT TO GO THE CRUCIBLE, THERE SHOULD BE ACCESS THERE WITHOUT PLAYERS FEARING THEY’VE GOT TO GET THROUGH AN EXCITED CROWD AT THE ENTRANCE, IF THAT MAKES SENSE.

In a fitting denouement to a timely health message from the sport’s professor of potting, O’Sullivan is also advising the public to get vaccinated at the earliest opportunity.

I’ll hopefully get my vaccine in the next few months after Sheffield,” he added.

IF THERE WAS A DOCTOR HERE RIGHT NOW WITH SOME ASTRAZENECA, I’D BE TELLING HIM TO PUMP IT RIGHT IN THERE. I’D HAVE IT STRAIGHT AWAY.

Desmond Kane

Ronnie might be “mad as cheese” but there is nothing mad in what he says here, quite the opposite.

Ronnie’s big announcement

Ronnie was a bit mischievious as he sparked all sorts of speculations about today’s announcement … which proved to be about sponsorship.

Here is the official Press Release:

ROS ROKIT Announcement - 2ROS ROKIT Announcement - 3

And Eurosport take on it…

World Championship 2021 – Ronnie O’Sullivan scares fans with video: ‘I’m not retiring from snooker’

“Everyone can chill out and calm down.” Ronnie O’Sullivan had fans sweating over his future when he made what appeared to be a sudden announcement on social media on Tuesday. Thankfully, the six-time world champion was simply launching a new brand partnership, but he took the opportunity to reassure fans that he is not retiring.

Ronnie O’Sullivan had fans very concerned he was poised to retire on Tuesday as he made an announcement on his Facebook page.

In teeing up the live stream, the 45-year-old was pictured waving to the fans, which appeared to concern many that he may be about to make a significant decision.

However, the six-time world champion was simply confirming his brand partnership with Rokit, and taking a pretty random Q&A to help make it known.

I’m taking retirement from my name,” he explained in the live stream on his Facebook page. “So it’s not Ronnie O’Sullivan, it’s Ronnie the Rocket.

Not snooker, I’m not retiring from snooker, everyone can chill out and calm down. Take it easy. We are still here. Potting some balls.

Asked who he would choose if he was allowed to select any four guests for a dinner party, O’Sullivan was typically unpredictable.

Stephen Fry, Mike Tyson, Eminem and Usain Bolt were his picks, if you want to know, and Eurosport would be very keen to acquire the rights to it.

O’Sullivan was then asked if it was hard being him, given the level of celebrity he has within the sport and beyond.

Only because I over-think things,” he said. “It’s not like Michael Jackson or David Beckham where you can’t go anywhere.

I’m known by the snooker fans, but I don’t have a following that maybe a footballer would have, so it is not that bad. So I’m fine with the life I’ve been dealt.”

Finally, O’Sullivan revealed his biggest goal at the moment was running a sub-three-hour marathon.

It’s not crazy, it’s achievable,” he said. “I’ve just got to find the time to train and recover. It’s a lot of dedication and it is highly unlikely, but it is possible.

Only that Eurosport got it wrong… it’s not Ronnie the Rocket, it’s Ronnie The ROKIT

Ronnie'sSnooker Shop

More news ahead of the Crucible

This was in the press this morning

Covid passport trials poised to start in weeks at FA Cup Final and World Snooker

The idea of a Covid passport requiring people to show certification that they have either tested negative or been vaccinated when entering a public space has proved controversial

Prime Minister Boris Johnson elbow bumps a member of staff during a visit to the B&Q store in Middlesbrough
Prime Minister Boris Johnson elbow bumps a member of staff during a visit to the B&Q store in Middlesbrough (Image: PA)

A much-touted and controversial Covid passport scheme is poised to be trialled at large-scale sporting events within weeks.

But a backlash to the plans has seen more than 70 MPs sign a letter opposing the introduction of the “discriminatory” scheme.

Pilot schemes to safely open up large events with tighter-packed crowds are due from mid-April.

Among the events lined up for the pilot are the World Snooker Championship and FA Cup final, with the FA Cup semi-final, League Cup final and Brit Awards also said to be on the list.

This week a Tory minister suggested these trials will be combined with plans to trial “Covid certification checks” – more details of which are expected to be announced on Monday.

Certification refers to showing you’ve had either a test, a vaccine or both – but Boris Johnson yesterday put the emphasis on testing rather than vaccines.

So the trials could mean anybody going to the events is asked for a Covid test to gain entry as well as a further test after attendance.

This is so that any spread of the disease can be monitored. Government scientists are closely involved in designing pilots for the scheme.

Preston North End's Paul Huntington scores his side's second goal of the game
The idea could apply to big sporting events (Image: EMPICS Sport)

The events will run from April until May and in the early stages attendees will need a negative Covid test to gain entry, according to The Daily Telegraph.

For the later months, officials reportedly want to make use of an updated NHS app to show whether a person has been given the vaccine, tested negative or has antibodies.

But there has been a backlash to the plans.

More than 70 Tory, Labour and Lib Dem MPs have pledged to campaign against the “divisive and discriminatory use” of inoculation certificates to “deny individuals access to general services, businesses or jobs”.

Ronnie O'Sullivan suffers UK Snooker Championship loss
The World Snooker Championship could be among those to see a live audience again (Image: Daily Record)
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits Hart Biologicals at Hartlepool
But there has been opposition to the idea (Image: Teesside Live)

They include 41 Tories – potentially jeopardising the Prime Minister’s 80-seat Commons majority.

A government source told the Telegraph there was still time for changes to the pilot plan to be made before announcements from Mr Johnson are made on Monday.

The study on sports matches – an Events Research Programme – will look at holding mass events with less social distancing than expected under the current roadmap.

The roadmap says Step 3, from May 17 at the earliest, will allow mass events but only at 50% capacity, 1,000 people indoors or 4,000 people outdoors, whichever is smallest. Stadiums like Wembley are allowed up to 10,000 people.

But this month the government will begin separate pilots of mass events to see if rules can be eased further.

These will include in the Crucible theatre for the snooker championship, which starts in mid-April, and at Wembley Stadium for the FA Cup final on May 15.

If that is successful ministers will stuff “as many people as we can” into Wembley again for a pencilled-in Euros final in July, Mr Dowden told The Sun.

Mr Dowden said earlier this week: “[Some]thing that we are considering is a Covid certification, and we will be testing whether we can use Covid certification to help facilitate the return of sports.”

It comes after Boris Johnson suggested that Brits will ‘definitely’ need vaccine passports of some kind to take foreign holidays.

It’s understood the Prime Minister will outline the first stages of a “traffic light” system for foreign travel on Monday.

But it is claimed there could be as few as 12 nations on the “green” list from May 17, the earliest date foreign holidays can resume.

He is also expected to spell out a direction for domestic “certification” which could, eventually, lead to Brits being asked to show their vaccine or testing status to enter a venue like a pub.

I don’t understand the “controversial” bit here. Is it “controversial” that driving on the left is mandatory in the UK? No because it’s a matter of safety for all. Similarly, a number of vaccines are mandatory: dyphteria, tuberculosis, tetanus and more. Those vaccines are mandatory, because the risks associated with the illnesses are high. Tuberculosis was the first “killer” of young men in Western Europe less than 100 years ago. It’s almost disappeared. I read yesterday in the press that over 1 million Brits were suffering from “long covid”, which is very crippling. It seems to affect as much as 1 in 7 survivors. IMO, just as for the other illnesses cited above, covid vaccine should be mandatory, and event organisers as well as pubs and restaurants owners should be allowed to ask to see proof of it before allowing people in. Customers should be informed of the plces policy as well. Endangering others is not a “right” and nobody should have the “freedom” to do it, no more they have a freedom to drive on the right in the UK, or on the left in mainland Europe. Some people don’t believe in the risks, and there has been a lot of disinformation, but not believing in the risks doesn’t nullify the said risks. If those people were only endangering themselves, I wouldn’t care so much, but they do endanger others as well, whether they believe it or not, and those others have a right to be kept safe.