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Shaun Murphy slams inclusion of amateur players in the UK Championship

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Murphy looks on as Si plays a shot (Mike Egerton/PA Wire/PA Images)

Shaun Murphy has unleashed a furious rant against World Snooker over the decision to include amateur players in the UK Championship.

2008 UK Champion Murphy suffered a shock 6-5 defeat at the hands of 19-year-old Si Jiahui in the opening round of the season’s first Triple Crown event in York on Tuesday.

Si led 5-1 before Murphy battled his way back to force a decider, but the Chinese teenager held on to secure a famous scalp.

After the match, Murphy hit out at tournament organisers for allowing amateur top-ups in the prestigious event – which offers a total prize fund of £1 million.

“I am going to sound like a grumpy old man but that young man shouldn’t be in the tournament,” said Murphy.

“I feel extremely hard done by that I have lost to someone who shouldn’t even be in the building.

“I don’t know why we as a sport allow amateurs to compete in professional tournaments. This is our livelihood. This is our living. We are self-employed individuals and not contracted sportsmen. We don’t play for a team.

“The other 127 runners and riders in the tournament, it is their livelihood too. It is wrong, in my opinion, to walk into somebody who is not playing with the same pressures and concerns I am.

“He played like a man who does not have a care in the world, because he does not have a care in the world. It is not fair, it is not right.

“I am not picking on him as a young man, he deserved his victory. Amateurs should not be allowed in professional tournaments, the end.

“This is our livelihood. This is how I put food on the table. This is how I earn money. Since turning professional at 15, I have earned the right to call myself a professional snooker player. He hasn’t done that. He shouldn’t be on the table.”

Si is one of nine amateur players competing in this year’s UK Championship as a result of withdrawals by main tour professionals.

The youngster held a Tour Card from 2019-2021 before being relegated at the end of last season, losing out in the final of Event One at Qualifying School this summer.

WST responded to Murphy’s remarks with a statement, which read: ‘Many elite amateur players like Si Jiahui train and compete full time in the hope of earning a guaranteed tour place, therefore they are competing under significant pressure with no guarantees.

“Providing opportunities for the best amateur players is important for our growth as a sport and that is something that Shaun benefitted from during his early days as a player.’

Si will now face Dominic Dale in the Second Round at the York Barbican later this week.