Shaun Murphy calls on Ronnie O’Sullivan to discuss gripes ‘professionally’

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Shaun Murphy believes progress can be made on Ronnie O’Sullivan’s gripes with snooker’s schedule if the sport’s leading player meets with its rule-makers.

O’Sullivan caused a stir at the UK Championship in York on Sunday when he mooted the idea of a breakaway circuit as a result of frustrations about the way parts of the game is being run.

The five-time world champion, who turns 43 on Wednesday, said he was “ready to go” and form a Champions League-style event of his own if he could find enough players to go with him.

Shaun Murphy wants to meet with O'Sullivan
Shaun Murphy wants to meet with O’Sullivan (Richard Sellers/PA)

World Snooker boss Barry Hearn called it a “cranky scheme” on Monday, while Judd Trump said his rival was “living on a different planet”.

O’Sullivan rowed back a little on Monday, saying he preferred to remain on World Snooker’s tour but wants “tweaks” to things, such as a schedule fairer on leading players and a different way of allocating ranking points.

“As the biggest draw in the game, what he says counts and it matters to the public, the players and World Snooker. Ronnie could be such a power for good in snooker if he wanted to be,” Murphy, who leads the Players Commission, told the BBC.

“I know he’s been invited to get involved with the Players Commission, he’s welcome to come to any meeting the WPBSA has and I know the powers that be at World Snooker are keen to speak to him as well.

Stephen Hendry was surprised by O'Sullivan's claims
Stephen Hendry was surprised by O’Sullivan’s claims (Steven Paston/PA)

“We value his input and we’d love for him to get round a table and come at us with some really good ideas. It’d be good to get them down on a bit of paper and discuss them professionally.”

Seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry, retired since 2012, was a player O’Sullivan said would possibly star on notional tour.

“Ronnie mentioned to me the other day if there were any invitation events would I fancy playing,” the Scot told the BBC.

“I said ‘absolutely’. I already play on the Senior Tour so it’s not like I don’t play and I just said ‘yeah, absolutely’. I had no idea about everything that was going to happen after it!”

O’Sullivan returns to action in the fourth round of the tournament on Wednesday.

Tuesday’s afternoon session at The Barbican saw Stuart Bingham hit a tournament highest break of 145 in the opening frame of his 6-2 win over David Gilbert, following up with two more century clearances.

World number five Judd Trump beat Mark King 6-2 in their third-round match, while Australian Neil Robertson edged out Scotland’s Graeme Dott 6-5.

Marco Fu’s hopes ended with a 6-3 defeat by Jack Lisowski.

Tuesday’s evening session saw Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen progress with a 6-2 win over Iranian Hossein Vafaei, which sees him go on to face Robertson in the last 16.

Ding Junhui, twice a winner of the UK Championship, beat fellow Chinese player Xiao Guodong 6-4 and Barry Hawkins won 6-4 against Gary Wilson.

In the final late match, Thailand’s Sunny Akani made it through to a fourth-round date with Bingham after defeating Welshman Jak Jones 6-2.

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