Mark Allen has branded World Snooker’s decision to award Jimmy White a further two-year Tour Card as “shocking”.
White, 58, will retain his place on the professional circuit for the next two seasons after being granted a further wildcard for his ‘outstanding contribution to the sport.’
White has been a stalwart of the snooker circuit since 1980 but saw his future in doubt after defeat to Stephen Hendry in the first qualifying round of the World Championship last week.
The former UK and Masters Champion and six-time world finalist was initially awarded an invitational tour card in 2017 and has now seen it renewed for a second time.
In a joint statement, WST Chairman Barry Hearn and WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson said: “Jimmy is one of snooker’s one-time greats, not only in terms of his achievements on the table, but also in his massive worldwide popularity.
“He has done so much to promote snooker through his playing style and charisma. He remains a great asset to our sport and we had no hesitation in offering him a tour card for the 2021/22 and 2022/23 seasons.”
The decision, however, has split opinion across the snooker community, with world number 11 Allen among those to openly criticise the move.
Allen tweeted: ‘No doubt I’ll face backlash again for saying this but the announcement of the Jimmy white wildcard is shocking.
‘Nothing against Jimmy personally but some awful decisions being made right now by WST.
‘I don’t agree with wildcards full stop. EVERYONE should earn their spots in my opinion.
‘Marco Fu is a whole different story as COVID has prevented him from competing this season.’
Three-time World Champion Mark Williams replied: ‘As Barry keeps saying, it’s fair for all [laughing emoji].’
World number 48 Elliot Slessor tweeted: ‘Politics in sport, it’s staggering.’
Last month, Hong Kong’s Marco Fu was offered an Invitational Tour Card due to his ‘outstanding achievements in the sport’, having missed a number of events over the past year due to travel restrictions.
Reanne Evans and Ng On Yee were also awarded places on the main tour as leading players from the WPBSA’s World Women’s Snooker Tour.