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Barry Hearn slams snooker shun in BBC Sports Personality Of The Year

Jamie Shaw in Off The Table 8 Dec 2017
World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn speaking at a press conference (credit: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn has branded the decision to omit Ronnie O'Sullivan from the Sports Personality Of The Year shortlist as "stupid beyond belief" and believes the panel should be sacked.

Five-time World Champion and 30-time ranking event winner O'Sullivan has never been nominated for the prestigious award and has once again been left out of this year's shortlist.

O'Sullivan, 42, claimed a record seventh Masters title in January and has also won the Shanghai Masters and English Open titles this year; he also remains on course to land a sixth UK Championship crown.

Speaking live during BBC Two's UK Championship coverage on Friday afternoon, Hearn said: "I think you've got to sack the panel.

"I have to listen to my target audience and entertain. I can't just make decisions that don't have any commercial value or that don't entertain people.

"This panel, they are independent, but they must be from another planet.

"The fact that a genius like Ronnie O'Sullivan has never been nominated means sack the panel, because they're not listening to what the public says."

O'Sullivan celebrates with the Masters trophy (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Twelve sportsmen and women have been nominated by an independent 12-member panel which is made up of former Olympians and Paralympians, broadcasters and newspaper journalists.

This year's shortlist is: Elise Christie (speed skating), Sir Mo Farah (athletics), Chris Froome (cycling), Lewis Hamilton (F1), Anthony Joshua (boxing), Harry Kane (football), Johanna Konta (tennis), Jonnie Peacock (Para-athletics), Adam Peaty (swimming) Jonathan Rea (motorcycling), Anya Shrubsole (cricket) and Bianca Walkden (taekwondo).

The BBC extended its broadcast agreement with World Snooker to 2024 but Hearn admits he finds it hard to believe that the sport's leading name has been overlooked once again.

"We're seeing TV audiences decline in virtually every sport other than snooker," he added.

"The World Champion [Mark Selby] has also not been nominated. 

"I'm not criticising those people that have been nominated, they're all there on merit, but you have to listen, you can't just go off at a tangent and do what may be politically correct or what may make you look good.

"I know there's lots of deserving cases but you cannot overrule. We don't produce enough geniuses in our sporting world to ignore a talent like Ronnie O'Sullivan.

"It is stupid beyond belief. 

"My advice - I think we just sack the panel and start again."

Seven-time World Champion Stephen Hendry, SPOTY runner-up to Paul Gascoigne in 1990, said: "I think the panel who vote for the Sports Personality contenders have a bias against snooker.

"What O'Sullivan does on the snooker table is as much, if not more, genius than any of the other contenders who are up for it this year. 

"Nobody can say what Lewis Hamilton does in a car is any more genius than what Ronnie O’Sullivan does on the snooker table."

Hendry was speaking on behalf of online betting site BetStars. #Callit at BetStars


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Barry Hearn slams snooker shun in BBC Sports Personality Of The Year

World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn has branded the decision to omit Ronnie O'Sullivan from the Sports Personality Of The Year shortlist as "stupid beyond belief" and believes the panel should be sacked.

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