Ronnie makes match-fixing claim

Ronnie O’Sullivan has claimed he was offered £20,000 to fix a snooker match.

Ronnie O’Sullivan has claimed he was offered £20,000 to fix a snooker match.

The reigning world champion writes in his new autobiography, Running, that the financial proposal was put to him by a person he knew.

The offer was not recent, with the 37-year-old saying it was made 10 years ago and concerned a match in the Premier League.

“Someone rang me and said he’d like to meet me over in the forest and have a walk through the woods,” O’Sullivan writes. “I knew the fella, and it was someone you don’t want to mess around with.

“What they were offering me, 20 grand, I could get for a couple of nights’ work.”

Detailing the offer, O’Sullivan writes: “’You’re playing in the Premier League,’ he said. ’Yes.’ ’And we’ve got people who can put big bets on. If you lose this frame and this frame we can get enough on it to make some money. We’ll give you this out of it.”’

O’Sullivan turned down the offer and has gone on to become a five-time world champion.

O’Sullivan’s fellow English cueman, former world number five Stephen Lee, was banned last month for 12 years for seven match-fixing offences and is to appeal against the verdict and the punishment imposed.

After a Twitter outburst last month, O’Sullivan backtracked on his claim that match-fixing could be rife in snooker.

The threat of disciplinary action against O’Sullivan arose when he spoke out on social media a day after Lee was found guilty by an independent panel of fixing charges following matches played in 2008 and 2009.

O’Sullivan wrote at the time: “I’ve heard there’s many more players who throw snooker matches .. I suppose Steve lee was just caught out.”

He added that “plenty of people have got loads to hide”.

World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn, who is close to O’Sullivan, warned the 37-year-old he must not make “vague announcements” and stressed he could face a disrepute charge if he knew of undetected fixing offences having been committed.

O’Sullivan revised his claims to state his only knowledge of match-fixing stemmed from second-hand accounts dating back several years, and before Hearn took the helm of World Snooker in December 2009.

O’Sullivan has also accused the snooker authorities of deliberately hurting his chances of winning the World Championship this year by changing the cloth before the final.

The 37-year-old believes slower baize was installed on the Crucible table after the semi-finals to better suit the style of his opponent Barry Hawkins, who he went on to beat 18-12, scoring a record six century breaks in the process.

O’Sullivan states in his autobiography: “The conspiracy theorist in me believes it was done to stop me winning the World Championship.”

And asked by the Daily Mail if he believes that, he added: “Yes, I know they did. I’m quite a conspiracy theorist sometimes.

“You only change the cloth if it’s running badly. I understood the four semi-finalists have to agree they want a new cloth. But, as far as I am aware, there was no complaint.

“The new cloth benefited Barry more than me. It was like playing on carpet. It didn’t suit my game at all.”

World Snooker, the branch of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association responsible for organising the game’s major tournaments, denied O’Sullivan’s claims, saying the cloth was changed because it was damaged.

A spokesman told the Mail: “We are confused by Ronnie’s comments. We always strive to provide the very best playing conditions for all our professional players. It is common practice in all World Snooker events to review the condition of the cloth before a match and make necessary changes.

“In this instance, after review and consultation with the WPBSA, the cloth was considered to be damaged. Ronnie, of course, went on to win the final 18-12, making a record six century breaks.”

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