THERE’s been plenty of controversy and talking points at this year’s Betfred.com World Championship - and there’s still a fortnight to go at snooker’s flagship tournament.
The outspoken Ulsterman Mark Allen has commanded plenty of attention with his astonishing attack on Cao Yupeng, who he accused of “cheating”, in his shock 10-6 first round defeat to the Chinese qualifier.
Stephen Hendry’s memorable 147 maximum clearance, Mark Williams’ Twitter outburst branding the Crucible Theatre a sh*thole - on the even of this year’s 17-day marathon - and Ronnie O’Sullivan’s much-publicised Crucible re-match with Peter Ebdon have paled into insignificance.
Yesterday it was the turn of Barry Hearn, the World Snooker chairman, to make his feelings known.
“This is a zero-tolerance stance,” said Hearn. “The players will be well-advised to listen to my words. It’s a question of how far do we go so the players understand their responsibility to the game?
“Mark Allen’s and Mark Williams’ remarks are unacceptable to World Snooker and as such both players will face disciplinary action. It’s time these people learn. We have the power to anything as long as we acted reasonably.”
Allen now faces the likelihood of a hefty fine, especially because he’s already been disciplined this season for questioning how the sport is run.
“The normal rules of law apply, it’s a fine, a potential suspension or a ban. Now is a very good time to be a snooker player, it’s not a good time to be an idiot.”
On the table debutant Jamie Jones caused an upset with his 10-8 win over Shaun Murphy, the former Rotherham potter and 2005 champion.
Today’s 1st rnd matches (Best-of-19 frames)- 10am: Judd Trump v Dominic Dale, Ding Junhui v Ryan Day - both max of 9 frames; 2.30pm: Graeme Dott v Joe Perry - max of 9 frames; O’Sullivan 7-2 Ebdon ; 7.30pm: Stephen Lee 4-5 Andrew Higginson - both to finish; Mark Selby v Barry Hawkins - max of 9 frames.
Results: Stephen Maguire beat Luca Brecel 10-7, Jamie Jones beat Shaun Murphy 10-8, Matthew Stevens beat Marco Fu 10-3.
Latest score: Ronnie O’Sullivan leads Peter Ebdon 7-2.