Ronnie O’Sullivan has launched a furious attack on World Snooker, labelling them “bullies” in an ongoing row.
Snooker’s governing body wrote to the five-time world champion and fined earlier this year to warn him about his behaviour after he criticised a referee during the Masters and gave a series of bizarre interviews in the past couple of months, including the spectacle of O’Sullivan using a robot voice for one.
World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn called the interviews “embarrassing“, and O’Sullivan has clearly been fired up enough by what he perceives as repeated attacks on his character to respond:
“I phoned Barry [Hearn] up four weeks ago and told him I was done with him and his board of people,
“I’m letting my lawyers sort it all out and not getting involved because I’m not being bullied or intimidated ever again.
“It just ruined me for the next three or four tournaments, which was disappointing because I’d put a lot of work in.
“I’m done with having to fight this off for five or six years – they’ve pushed me too far and, if I didn’t have good lawyers to deal with it, I’d probably walk away because I’m too old to be dealing with things like that.
“I like Barry, but I’m not being intimidated or bullied any more.”
The Rocket, now in his 25th World Championship campaign, eased his way past Gary Wilson at the Crucible this weekend, but it seems far more likely that he will be making headlines for what he does away from the table rather than anything he does on it.
“Hopefully, they can relax and stop being so precious, but I’m not prepared to put myself in that situation anymore. It’s not fair on my fans because I don’t want to play with disciplinary hearings all the time.
“The language can be quite threatening in these letters, which is quite unsettling because I’m a happy guy.”I’ve had the best year of my life – playing snooker, doing exhibitions, doing the American Hustle, writing the book and doing my work with Eurosport – I’ve never been happier.
“I play snooker because I love it, but I need to be in peak condition and my brain needs to be focused 100% in a good frame of mind.
“I owe to my fans to do a good job, but I want to just go out there, enjoy my game and not have something lingering in the background.”
The world number 12 is among the favourites to win his first world title since 2013, but expect this feud with World Snooker to drag on for a considerable period of time.