Football shirts banned as World Snooker Championship begins in Sheffield

The Betfred World Championship got underway today as the tournament enforced a new ban on football shirts.

World Snooker announced ahead of the event that fans in "sportswear or team sport shirts" would be denied entry to the Crucible arena.

Coventry supporter Brian Wright has been a front-row regular at snooker's blue riband tournament for almost 30 years, and has become well known for his array of retro Sky Blues shirts which are often seen behind the players on television.

He arrived in a Coventry shirt today but was told by tournament director Mike Ganley he would need to change to be allowed in to watch defending champion Mark Selby play Joe Perry.

Anticipating that would be the case, Mr Wright brought a button-up sky-blue-and-white striped shirt with him, and the 48-year-old was allowed in to watch the snooker after changing.

On the eve of the tournament, five-time champion Ronnie O'Sullivan had described the ban as "quite laughable".

Selby found himself in early trouble.

Seeking a fourth Crucible triumph in five years, Selby slumped 4-0 behind at the morning mid-session interval against Perry. There were five frames remaining of the session, with the best-of-19 contest then due to finish on Saturday evening.

Leicester cueman Selby spoke yesterday of the need to ensure any bad sessions in the long matches were not too damaging to his prospects.

Perry battled through three qualifiers to reach the main draw and the 43-year-old Cambridgeshire cueman was seizing his chance.

Since the Crucible became the home of the tournament in 1977, six defending champions have lost in the first round. Stuart Bingham is the most recent to have suffered that fate, losing in 2016 to Ali Carter in his opener.

Selby came out firing after the interval and breaks of 74 and 92 cut Perry's lead to two frames.

But when Perry took the seventh with runs of 41 and 59 to lead 5-2 it assured him of an advantage to carry into the evening.

With two frames remaining of the opening session, it was just a question of how large that lead would be.

On the other table, Marco Fu was 4-2 behind early on against debutant Lyu Haotian.

- PA


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