Ronnie O’Sullivan has launched an attack on the venue for the English Open, labelling it a “hellhole” that smells of urine.
O’Sullivan accused event organiser World Snooker of cutting corners because the K2 Leisure Centre in Crawley, which is staging this week’s tournament, is well below the required standard.
The five-time world champion beat Kurt Maflin 4-1 in his opening English Open match on Monday, but that did nothing to quell the notoriously out-spoken O’Sullivan’s complaints.
“It’s such a bad venue, it demotivates you to want to play,” he told the BBC.
“This is about as bad as I’ve ever seen. It’s a bit of a hellhole.
“I don’t know what this gaff is, but I’ve just done an interview and all I can smell is urine.”
World number three O’Sullivan won the English Open when it was held in Barnsley last year.
But the 42-year-old says the decision to move the venue to Crawley, a commuter town in southern England, is a major setback caused by the penny-pinching of snooker’s governing body.
“It’s just got no atmosphere in there. I’m practising and I’ve got wires all around the table,” he said.
“There’s no security, you’ve got people running at you left, right and centre.
“It’s not the fans’ fault. They (World Snooker) obviously haven’t got the budget to run it properly.
“I don’t know where their budget is but they’re cutting corners. I think they should invest in good venues. Players deserve better.”
Disappointed World Snooker bosses took issue with O’Sullivan’s claims, insisting others player were happy with the venue.
“We are surprised to hear these comments from Ronnie given that he has made no formal complaint and the feedback from the other players has been overwhelmingly positive,” a statement read.
“The partners we are working with on the event agree with our view that K2 Crawley is an excellent venue with very good facilities.”
Despite the unglamourous surroundings, O’Sullivan began his title defence in convincing fashion, needing just over an hour to see off Maflin.
His victory included a break of 104 in the second frame, moving O’Sullivan, who has achieved the feat more than 950 times, a step close to becoming the first player to record 1,000 tons.
smg/dmc (Additional editing by Sean McMahon)
© Agence France-Presse