Belfast Telegraph

Hearn will be ‘brutal’ on snooker match-fixing shame

World Snooker chief Barry Hearn last night warned that the sport could die unless greedy players learn to resist temptation.

Hearn, chairman of the sport's governing body, insisted that snooker can recover from the allegations that John Higgins agreed to a match-fixing deal.

And Hearn stated that Pat Mooney, Higgins' manager, has “no future in snooker”.

Mooney accompanied Higgins in Kiev when the pair were filmed by the News of the World newspaper allegedly agreeing to accept £261,000 in return for fixing the outcome of four frames in matches to be played later this year.

New world number one Higgins denies any wrong-doing,and has vowed to clear his name. In a statement he said he became worried during the Kiev meeting and suspected those involved were Russian Mafia.

However, Hearn told a press conference in Sheffield that Higgins should have got in touch from the moment he was aware of any trouble.

“One of the reasons I was so upset with the video evidence etcetera was I didn't get a phone call,” Hearn said.

“If someone approaches, what I can say is it's their responsibility to report that instance immediately so the authorities are aware and can act on them.”

Hearn revealed David Douglas, the former Metropolitan Police detective chief superintendent who joined the board of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) last month, will meet News of the World management today as the investigation moves forward.

Hearn repeated his view that the case should be dealt with swiftly, stressing it would be over in days and weeks rather than months and years.

“If there is a sickness in snooker, that's the death knell for snooker unless that sickness is removed, and it will be removed if it exists at all,” he said.

“My personal view and the view of the board is any sickness will be removed in a brutal manner because we will not tolerate it.

“You can be confident that, proven guilty, the penalties will be very harsh indeed.

“There's temptations in life for everybody, but our sporting heroes have to be whiter than white. they have to be totally cleansed of anything like this.”

Hearn has known Higgins for about 15 years and was stunned to learn of the claims about him.

“As a friend, it doesn't look good John. We all watched the video, we've all seen it,” said Hearn.

“I can only judge on the visual evidence that's in front of me.

“I stressed to John that this is something that is not going away, that it will be treated as a very, very serious offence potentially, and if he's found guilty will carry the most severe penalty.”

Meanwhile, in last night’s final Australian Neal Robertson and Graeme Dott were locked in an intense battle.

Robertson led Scotland's Graeme Dott 15-12 and had the 18-frame victory target in his sights.

For the first time the match was being shown live on Australian television, and although the standard was not the highest seen in a World Championship final, the right result for that particular audience was on the cards.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph