Ronnie O’Sullivan has hit out at Shaun Murphy and said he should look for another job outside snooker or play the sport for fun after the 39-year-old railed against amateurs being 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.
Ronnie O’Sullivan (left) has told Shaun Murphy (right) to ‘look for another job’ after his rant on amateurs being allowed to play in professional tournaments
Murphy argued that this creates an unfair advantage as amateurs are ‘not playing with the same pressures’, which saw many of snooker’s top stars back Murphy – but O’Sullivan did not agree with the comments.
‘They better start looking for a job if they don’t like it,’ six-time world champion O’Sullivan said.
‘I drew a line under it a long time ago. I can change what I do, that’s what I’m saying to Murphy – go and get a job, do something else, play snooker for fun because you’re going to have loads more of that.
‘Five or six years ago I made a real conscious effort to play for fun and just enjoy it…
‘If I had to play it as my living, I’d be like Shaun Murphy – in bits. You’ll never hear me talk like that because it’s a hobby, but when it means something to you then it can hurt.’
The 19-year-old Si Jiahui earned a memorable win over former world champion Murphy
But while O’Sullivan has taken the route of not seeing it as a living, reigning world champion and No 1-ranked player Mark Selby insists amateurs should not get an automatic bye and should earn their spot.
‘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.
Mark Selby threw his weight behind Murphy
‘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.
O’Sullivan, gunning for his eighth UK championship title, beat amateur Michael White 6-3 to reach the second round.