Five-time World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan says that more “price-effective” tournaments could be the answer in snooker’s fight against match-fixing.
His comments came after the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) sanctioned three players – Yu Delu and Cao Yupeng, both from China, and Welshman David John.
The trio have been suspended until the outcome of formal hearings, which will take place at a venue and date to be confirmed. All three players have the right to appeal against the decision.
Posting on Twitter, O’Sullivan said: “Match fixing in snooker, I’m not sure punishing the players is the answer, the real question should be why do the players feel the need to do this? I have my own theory.”
This theory is that high expenses are at the root of the issue. He says that the subsequent impact on a player’s yearly earnings means that these expenses “kill the players ranked outside the top 16″.
“Maybe decrease the amount of small events and make the events you do have price-effective for everyone,” he continued.
“Have more players if you like, but don’t put the players in a position where to make a living becomes unsustainable. Everyone eating is always a good thing in my book.”
The 42-year-old, who said he was “talking about why some players feel the need to fix matches”, added: “Once you find out why, you can then try to make positive changes to stop it happening.
“Whatever you do, no player on the main tour should end the season minus £30,000, and, trust me, there are a high percentage that are. A players’ union is the only way forward. Players stick together, and changes will happen, no players no game.”
O’Sullivan concluded: “Some players will stick but I know others who can be picked off. Divide and rule never works for the long-term benefit of the all players.”
However, World Snooker has countered these concerns by saying that prize money had “increased dramatically in recent years” and that it now goes deeper into the 128 professionals.
Through a spokesperson, the sport’s governing body said: “Last season, 13 tour players earned over £300,000, 34 earned over £100,000 and 61 earned over £50,000.
“Even taking into account expenses, the majority of players are earning good money. We have made huge progress over the past decade and we are committed to continuing this trend which will provide more earning opportunities for the players.”
O’Sullivan will be sending delegates ‘Snooker loopy’ at this year’s Betting on Sports conference in London (18-21 September). Appearing as an ambassador for BetCris alongside the operator’s UK CEO Hilly Ehrlich, the Rocket is set to play a starring role in a session dedicated to why snooker is such a good fit with the bookmakers, held as part of the ‘Sport in Focus’ track.