World Snooker today defended themselves following Ronnie O’Sullivan’s claim that competing in Players Tour Championship events gives him the feeling he is being “raped”.
The sport’s professional game body, run by promoter Barry Hearn, responded to O’Sullivan’s controversial remarks by stressing there was no obligation to enter the PTC tournaments, which were introduced last season.
World Snooker also pointed out that prize money on the snooker tour has almost doubled inside the last two years, with a £70,000 jackpot for the champion at the PTC Grand Final.
Earlier this month, 35-year-old O’Sullivan won the seventh in a series of the 12 PTC events being staged by World Snooker in response to previous claims from players that there were not enough tournaments.
Valuable ranking points have been tagged to the events, and O’Sullivan won the most recent of them in Gloucester, picking up a prize of £10,000 in the process. He sits top of the order of merit having also tasted victory in the first PTC in Sheffield.
As one of the richer players on the professional circuit – O’Sullivan’s career earnings top £6million – a minimal prize makes little difference, while he insists there are players lower down the ladder who are losing money by taking part in the tournaments, the next of which is in Killarney this weekend.
“I feel like I’m being raped when I’m playing in them,” O’Sullivan told Press Association Sport yesterday.
“They put these ranking events on and ranking points at these tournaments and it just feels like the winner’s prize is not great, the loser’s prize...most players are going there and losing money, but they’re putting ranking points on so it’s forcing the players to play in it, which is not great, but what do you do? You have to go.”
In a statement, World Snooker said: “We have a responsibility to provide events for all 99 players on the main tour and the PTC events offer playing opportunities for them.
“Players have the choice whether to enter each event.
“The top prize at each PTC may only be £10,000, but the top 24 at the end of the series go through to the Grand Final, when the top prize is £70,000.
“Two seasons ago there were only seven or eight events on the main tour calendar; now there are nearly 30 and total prize money has virtually doubled.”