Ronnie O’Sullivan has described the venue for this year’s English Open as “a hellhole” after winning his opening match at the K2 Leisure Centre in Crawley.
The Rocket, who is the defending English Open champion, battled back from losing the opening frame to defeat Kurt Maflin 4-1. He needed just over an hour to win his opening game but the real fireworks only came when O’Sullivan gave this thoughts post-match, with the five-time world champion accusing World Snooker of “cutting corners”.
“It’s such a bad venue, it demotivates you to want to play. This is about as bad as I’ve ever seen,” he said. “It’s just got no atmosphere in there. I’m practising and I’ve got wires all around the table. There’s no security, you’ve got people running at you left, right and centre.
“It’s not the fans’ fault. They [World Snooker] obviously haven’t got the budget to run it properly.
“I don’t know where their budget is but they’re cutting corners. I think they should invest in good venues. Players deserve better.”
The K2, which staged the qualifying rounds of the Australian Open in 2015, is hosting a ranking tournament for the first time and World Snooker quickly expressed their surprise at O’Sullivan’s comments.
“We are surprised to hear these comments from Ronnie given that he has made no formal complaint and the feedback from the other players has been overwhelmingly positive,” read a statement.
World champion Mark Williams also found O’Sullivan’s viewpoint tough to agree with, having also advanced after defeating fellow Welshman Dominic Dale 4-1.
“I don’t know why he [O’Sullivan] said that,” Williams said. “It’s up to him what he wants to say but I found it fine… maybe he was on a different table to me, I’m not sure.”
O’Sullivan is favourite at 3.80 to retain the English Open title, while Williams can be backed at 9.50.