Barry Hearn believes snooker players will be “terrified” of cheating the system after seeing John Higgins suspended for allegedly agreeing to fix frames in return for payment.
New world number one Higgins has firmly denied wrongdoing and vowed to clear his name following the News of the World allegations that he and his manager Pat Mooney reached a deal in Kiev with an undercover reporter, posing as a businessman, deliberately to lose frames in four matches to be played later this year.
Hearn, chairman of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, told Press Association Sport that players would be affected by the Higgins case, and wary of what might happen if they were offered the chance to become involved in shady deals.
Hearn said: “Terrified is a very good word and they should be, because it’s their living and they’re seeing the world number one have his world torn apart.
“Rightly or wrongly there are issues to answer. And even with an exoneration the circumstances will always leave a bad taste.”
He added: “We’ve got a lot of problems to deal with in snooker, accelerated by events at the weekend.
“There’ll be other stories. Credibility issues are important and it’s important for us to be seen to be acting very positively.
“Some cancer is operable and this is.”
WPBSA board member David Douglas, a former Metropolitan Police detective chief superintendent, yesterday met News of the World management and will study the details they possess, including the full unedited video of the meeting which involved Higgins and Mooney. Mooney resigned from the WPBSA board on Sunday, when Higgins was suspended.
Discussing yesterday’s meeting, Hearn said: “He’s established contact with them. Dave is not the jury or judge. He’s the head of discipline and he’s preparing a file of the facts for submission to an independent panel.
“There are a number of them out there in sport and they will hear the case.
“I’m telling everyone I want it done tomorrow. But you have to give 21 days’ notice to sit down with John and his advisers, and then it’s 14 days beyond that before they (the panel) can sit, so they’ve got consideration time.
“David said he can’t guarantee it’ll be done by the end of May or the end of June, but he said, ’I guarantee you it’ll be done as quickly as possible’.”