Snooker: O'Sullivan backs Hearn plans
Published 07/04/2010 | 15:14
Ronnie O'Sullivan today urged his fellow snooker stars to "see sense" and back Barry Hearn's plans for giving the sport a radical makeover.
The world number one gave his firm backing to the new World Snooker chief ahead of the Betfred.com World Championship, which starts on April 17.
Following the Crucible showpiece the players will vote on whether to accept Hearn's reform proposals, which include plans for an extended professional tour with more tournaments.
Critics of the manifesto have suggested it favours the top players, but O'Sullivan is adamant everyone should get behind the veteran promoter, given it is a rare opportunity to bring in fresh ideas.
Hearn today confirmed players would enter the Crucible arena to music of their choice in a break from tradition.
And O'Sullivan is right behind the plans for a revolution.
The three-time former world champion insisted: "It has to be voted through.
"There's a lot of playing opportunities there. In my opinion it has to happen.
"Whether it does or not we'll have to see but I'm sure the players will see sense.
"If they don't I'm sure Barry won't be hanging around and we're back to square one and it's all over."
Hearn has already confirmed he will quit his role as chairman of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association if the players throw out his plans.
O'Sullivan said: "I think sometimes you have to back people and allow people to do what they do.
"We're lucky to have these people involved so whatever they want to do I think you have to back them with a little blind faith."
Hearn said: "Players will do what they're going to do and they'll get what they get. If they share the vision they'll get the benefits. If they don't share that's okay."
World champion John Higgins has made no secret of his view that the WPBSA were progressing at pedestrian pace, if at all, under the previous regime led by Hearn's predecessor Sir Rodney Walker.
And like his fellow 34-year-old O'Sullivan, the Scot would be dismayed if the players reject the new plans.
Higgins told Press Association Sport: "With the way things were going in two to three years we might not have had a game.
"This is a big decision we've all got to make: do we go ahead with Barry's proposals or do we go along steadily sliding into mediocrity?
"I'm sure the players will wake up and grasp the new things with both hands and we can move on from there."
Higgins, who organised a World Series of Snooker tour when he became exasperated about the WPBSA's reluctance to take snooker into mainland Europe, believes the new structure outlined by Hearn in a letter to players last month gives everyone a chance to benefit.
Hearn has proposed tournaments including a one-frame shoot-out knock-out event involving everyone in the top 64, where there would be no seedings and where in theory there would be a greater chance of shock results.
Higgins said: "I can't understand it when I hear some of the low-ranked players are against it.
"The proposals are actually going to give them a better chance of beating guys like me and Ronnie O'Sullivan and Ding Junhui because he's trying to bring in shorter formats.
"If he keeps the formats the way they are then we're still going to be the top players for the next five years.
"This is going to give them better opportunities with one-frame shoot-outs and best-of-threes and best-of-fives."