Mark Selby BACKS Shaun Murphy’s claim following shock UK Championship exit

Snooker’s reigning world champion and No 1-ranked player Mark Selby agrees with Shaun Murphy’s view that amateurs should not be allowed to play in professional tournaments.

World No 6 Murphy made the headlines on Wednesday after an extraordinary rant following his first-round elimination at the UK Championship by 19-year-old amateur Si Jiahui.

The World Snooker tour have allowed players like Si to enter the UK Championship via the ‘top-up’ system, whereby if 128 professionals are not available then amateurs can fill the slots. The same system is used in other tournaments too. 

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Shaun Murphy was not happy after his first-round defeat at the UK Championship this week

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Mark Selby threw his weight behind Murphy

Murphy argued that this creates an unfair advantage as amateurs are ‘not playing with the same pressures’ – and Selby agrees.

‘I think a lot of players agree with him,’ the four-time world champion told BBC Sport. ‘Because [Shaun] said it after he lost, people probably think it is sour grapes and he wouldn’t have said it if he had won – but I totally stand by everything he said.

‘There’s a reason there is a Q [qualifying] School to try to get on [the professional tour], and if you don’t get on, you should have to wait another year and play in the amateur events.’

Three-time world champion Mark Williams also agrees with Murphy. 

He told BBC Sport: ‘I texted [Jason] Ferguson [World Snooker chairman] the other day saying: “If you are going to have top-ups then stop the top-ups having every tournament”. How is that fair? There is no pressure and they are free rolling.’

After his defeat, Murphy angrily told BBC Radio 5 Live: ‘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 19-year-old Si Jiahui earned a memorable win over former world champion Murphy

‘The other 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. 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.’ 

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