/ Snooker

Hearn defends snooker changes

Updated: Thursday, 08 Dec 2011 07:44

Barry Hearn - Taking legal advice after Mark Allen's comments
Barry Hearn - Taking legal advice after Mark Allen's comments

World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn has said he will seek legal advice following Mark Allen's comments about his running of the sport.

Allen spoke out at the williamhill.com UK Championships in York on Monday, calling for Hearn to step aside and accusing him of reneging on promises and looking to "make money for himself".

The 25-year-old Northern Irishman also claimed Hearn's attitude was one of "**** the players", an outburst that has already brought him a referral to the game's governing body, the WPBSA, for breaching tournament rules.

He could now be charged, but his review of Hearn's governance of the sport may also have repercussions away from the table.

Speaking in a number of national newspapers today, Hearn said: "I'm disappointed. And while there's a fabulous tournament going on I'd hoped we could concentrate on that instead of the comments of just one player.

"I'm also disappointed by the personal attack Mark has made on me with his comments that are slanderous and will be taking separate legal advice on the matter."

Allen's initial ire came over the reduction of frames at the UK Championships, which is regarded as the second-biggest event on the sport's calendar.

First and second-round matches have been cut from 17 frames to 11, while fans can now watch both at once after the partition that separated the tables was removed.

Hearn has honed his reputation as a visionary in darts, but Allen was concerned that snooker was starting to follow darts' lead.

"I've got no doubt he'll tweak the World Championship," Allen added.

"Barry's just there to make money for himself, it doesn't matter about the players. The whole tradition of the game is going to pot.

"He (Hearn) needs to get away from the darts factor. It's getting close to that. I think in the long run he'll probably do good for snooker, but not for my generation. It's time to let someone else have a go."

Hearn took over at the top of the sport 18 months ago after being voted in by the players, and has made a number of changes already, including increasing the number of ranking events by two and adding in another 13 tournaments that carry ranking points.

Prize money has also gone up and the likes of Shaun Murphy and Mark Williams, both former World Champions, have supported what the veteran promoter is doing.

Other leading names have voiced concerns, though, with John Higgins and Ronnie O'Sullivan questioning some of Hearn's decisions.

But 63-year-old Hearn, who also chairs the Professional Darts Corporation, Matchroom Sports and Leyton Orient FC, believes change was necessary.

He added: "The ratings are up, ticket sales are 50% up on last year, so the changes seem to be working for the improvement of snooker. Let's face it, things had to change."

Allen will return to the table for the first time since his comments tonight, when he will play Ali Carter for a place in the quarter-finals.