Hearn to have word with ‘Robotic’ Ronnie

Ronnie O'Sullivan will be in action at the Crucible in Sheffield
Ronnie O'Sullivan will be in action at the Crucible in Sheffield

Ronnie O’Sullivan has been told to “grow up” by World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn as he prepares to head to the Crucible.

The five-time world champion has staged a two-month protest against what he feels is unfair treatment by the sport’s authorities.

It has seen him deliberately and repeatedly give one-word answers to questions he has faced after matches, while in an ITV interview at the World Grand Prix at Preston Guild Hall in February he was marginally more expansive but gave a series of responses in a strange style.

Speaking in a robotic voice, O’Sullivan said: “It resonates very much for me, when I come here to the Preston Guild Hall it has very good memories.

“I am very happy with my game and I hope I can play well to the end of the season.”

But O’Sullivan crashed to a 4-1 defeat to Neil Robertson in the second round at the Guild Hall.

At the Welsh Open in March, the 41-year-old began to sing the Oasis hit Wonderwall when taking questions from a radio reporter.

O’Sullivan has been working for Eurosport this season and explained his stance in a blog for the broadcaster.

The 41-year-old was aggrieved at receiving a disciplinary letter following his criticism of referee Terry Camilleri at the Masters in January, and for swearing at a cameraman he felt had not observed the correct etiquette.

But Hearn is mindful of the situation persisting into the Betfred World Championship, which begins on Saturday and is the sport’s biggest showcase.

Hearn said: “I’m going to be 
having a word.

“Ronnie’s monosyllabic remarks are not a breach of the rules but certainly they are a breach of the spirit of how those rules are interpreted.

“And I would hope that common sense comes back, because what started off as being quite amusing has now become in my view embarrassing for everyone, including Ronnie.

“I’m a fan of the relationship between the players and the press. It’s time for Ronnie to grow up a little bit now.”

O’Sullivan won his fifth world title in 2013, since when he has been runner-up to Mark Selby in 2014, a beaten quarter-finalist in 2015 and a second-round loser last year.

He and all the world’s top 16 players are due to appear at an eve-of-tournament press conference in Sheffield on 
Friday.