Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Snooker ace Mark Allen must learn lesson

Mark Allen will now need to concentrate on playing snooker and keeping himself out of trouble for the next six months or he could face a three-month ban from the sport

In December last year Mark Allen walked into a press conference with a large piece of black tape over his mouth.

Just a few days earlier, in another media briefing, the Antrim man had a pop at snooker chief Barry Hearn — and made matters worse by swearing.

Maybe Allen should have maintained his self-imposed gagging as he’s been dipping in and out of controversy and trouble ever since.

And now, as well as being hit by a £10,000 fine, the 26-year-old is facing a three-month suspension if he steps out of line again before the end of the year.

That public rant at Hearn just before Christmas would have been reflected upon as a storm in a tea cup had it not been for what followed.

Instead of brushing the outburst under the carpet it was the beginning of Allen spiralling out of control, culminating in him basically branding Chinese players as cheats after being knocked out of the World Championships by Cao Yupeng.

Allen said: “The big turning point was at 5-4 when he was in the balls and Paul Collier, the referee, missed a blatant push.

“It was quite obvious to me and anyone watching at home would have been able to see it no problem.

“It seems to be a bit of a trait for the Chinese players because they’re have been a few instances in the past of fouls and blatant cheating going on. It needs to be corrected.

“It’s very sad the state of snooker if it has to go down to that, but it’s not the first time. Marco Fu and Liang Wenbo have been known for it in the past so maybe it’s just the Chinese players.”

Hearn claimed he’d been left speechless by those comments from Allen — now there’s an achievement if ever there was one. Maybe he was simply stunned into silence, left to wonder if Allen would ever learn.

Maybe now he will.

If he doesn’t the consequences could be more serious than simply being barred from playing for 12 weeks.

There is the loss of ranking points, which might affect whether he gains entry to the bigger tournaments, mainly the World Championships and the knock-on effect is a reduction in prize money. Losing his competitive edge is another possibility.

Let’s not forget that Allen has been a winner on the professional circuit — and just a few months ago too.

He didn’t particularly enjoy the World Open in Haikou, China, back in February — is there a recurring theme? — but he did win the tournament.

While there he took to Twitter — Allen admitted a year before that he had suffered from bouts of depression, partly down to spending many hours alone in hotel rooms around the world.

To fill his time at that particular tournament he told anyone who wanted to listen that the conditions were ‘horrendous’. He then went on to say: “Journey a nightmare. People are ignorant. Place stinks. Arena's rubbish, tables poor, food is horrendous. Other than that I love China.”

His outspoken ways may make Allen a media dream, but none of these controversies have done him any favours.

No wonder the WPBSA — who imposed the punishment on Allen — has also demanded that he undertakes media training. The expectation is that he’ll be told what to say in the future.

He has made far too many headlines for the wrong reasons in the last six months or so.

His bank balance is some £13,250 lighter than it might have been as well. A £250 fine for the criticism of Hearn last year and a further £1,000 for his Twitter rant in China before the latest £10,000 punishment and the £1,000 of costs that went with it.

Now Allen needs to do his talking on the table nd to go about winning some more tournaments otherwise he risks being remembered for shouting his mouth off rather than potting balls.

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