Ronnie O’Sullivan feels UK-based snooker events are “like a car boot sale” and suggested WST play the “whole tour” in China.
The seven-time World champion, who withdrew from the Championship League and British Open, is playing his first competitive snooker of the season in the UK this week at the English Open.
O’Sullivan opened with a commanding 4-0 victory over Andrew Pagett at the Brentwood Centre on Monday to set up a second-round meeting with Jackson Page.
But the Rocket, who only returned to the UK on Monday morning after playing a lucrative exhibition with Jimmy White in Macau over the weekend, is far from impressed with the venue for the Home Nations event.
And he believes the ending of tobacco sponsorship in 2005 has led to a general decline in standards at UK-based tournaments.
“I don’t know if you have had a walk around this venue or been in the toilets and had a look around. It’s not the greatest,” he said. “It’s not the most inspiring place to come and play snooker, but it is what it is.
“You just go through the motions in a lot of these tournaments. I don’t want to be ultra-critical, but also sometimes the truth needs to be told.
“They don’t care here [in the UK]. They just don’t care anymore. When we had tobacco sponsors, they were amazing, they really went out of their way to make all the players feel special. Every event was like a special event.
“Now, it’s like a car boot sale. It’s quite hard as a player to turn up at tournaments like this and feel like you want to try. But you do try because you have pride in performance. It’s not easy.
“There should be a certain standard that we all….us as players, we have standards we have to adhere to. The promoters should have standards that they have to adhere to. There should be a certain level where it can’t drop.”
O’Sullivan thinks WST should look to take the tour overseas should there not be an improvement with events played in the UK, and there is one particular destination he has in mind.
“If the tournaments are going to be like this, then have every tournament in Asia, have every tournament in Saudi Arabia,” he continued.
“Maybe they do need to go to places where they have money. There is no money over here to put on events, otherwise I am sure they would. Go to China. Have the whole tour in China. You could still have the World Championships here if you want. But take everything out there. Keep us out there.
“They just make an effort. The crowds, they have a two-table set-up, so you are not playing in a four-table thing where people are moving around. I know it might sound silly, but just having a crowd down the side makes you engage more.
“For me, if you go to Asia, you go to all those fantastic venues, they look after you really well – courtesy cars to and from the games – there is security, so you get to your match and get away without being driven mad.
“In Asia, they go that extra bit for you. It’s little things like that as a player that mean something to you. The game’s the game. That never changed. But just how you get treated as a player. It means more. Who doesn’t want to be treated well? Who doesn’t want to be spoilt? For me, you get that when you are in Asia.”
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