Snooker’s world governing body last night hit back at claims the sport had not done enough to help Alex Higgins.
The Hurricane died penniless after squandering his millions in a chaotic whirlwind of drink and womanising, with his final days spent alone in a cramped flat.
Higgins’ tragic end led to claims by former world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan that more should have been done to help him.
“Alex should have been looked after from the minute he couldn't earn a living playing snooker,” said O’Sullivan. “It should have been for the players to dip into their prize money for the great players that put snooker on the map. I definitely think snooker could have done a lot more for him.
“If Alex Higgins was a golfer I think he'd have probably been a multi-millionaire in his ending days, because I do think they look after their top sportsmen a bit better.”
However, the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association — the governing body
of professional snooker — said Higgins received “considerable” help.
“Alex did receive considerable financial assistance from the WPBSA benevolent fund over the years, though all such donations are kept confidential,” a spokesman told the Belfast Telegraph.
“The fund, which is operated by trustees acting independently of the WPBSA board, provides assistance to professional billiards and snooker player members of the WPBSA (past or present) and/or their dependents who find themselves in a position where they require financial support due to ill health, disablement or otherwise.”
When speaking earlier this week, O’Sullivan said he hoped Higgins’ tragic case could be a lesson for how to look after ex-players in the future.
“Hopefully snooker can learn from that now and hopefully for the future; great players do good for the game and there can be something in place to make sure they're not in the situation Alex found himself in towards the last few years of his life, because it was sad to see,” he added.