Belfast Telegraph

SPOTY omissions prove snooker has lost respect: O'Sullivan

By Mark Staniforth

Ronnie O'Sullivan insists a "car boot sale" mentality is responsible for snooker's continued omission from the shortlist for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award.

The five-time World champion described the sport's treatment by the programme as "a complete insult" - but says it is inevitable given what he believes is a continued cheapening of the game.

The shortlist for the 2016 prize was announced yesterday, with Nicola Adams, Gareth Bale, Alistair Brownlee, Sophie Christiansen, Kadeena Cox, Mo Farah, Jason Kenny, Laura Kenny, Andy Murray, Adam Peaty, Kate Richardson-Walsh, Nick Skelton, Dame Sarah Storey, Jamie Vardy, Max Whitlock and Danny Willett in the running.

Surprisingly, Northern Ireland world champions Carl Frampton and Jonathan Rea are not shortlisted, and neither is Paralympian Bethany Firth who scooped three golds and a silver in Rio.

No snooker player has made the shortlist since it was introduced in 2010, and the last snooker star to reach the top three was Stephen Hendry, who came second to Paul Gascoigne in 1990.

O'Sullivan, who reached the last 16 of the UK Championship with a 6-1 thrashing of Michael Georgiou, didn't try to hide his disgust when asked about it.

"Snooker is becoming a nothing-type sport - it's kind of like a car boot sale but with the other sports it's like shopping at Harrods," the former World No.1 argued.

"They're putting so much of it out there it's cheap TV. I think snooker has lost that respect amongst other sports - the Olympics is such a massive thing now, as are golf and tennis.

"You look at Formula One and see beautiful-looking people and you look at snooker and think, 'God' - you look at some of the qualifiers and it costs a fiver to get into Barnsley.

"It's all about media and money and business and snooker is nothing compared to Formula One, tennis and the Olympics. They've got corporate people involved and they have a massive say in who is big and who is not."

Steve Davis is the only snooker player to win the award in 1988 and O'Sullivan, who was overlooked after winning his fifth World title in 2013 after returning from a year out, says attitudes in both the sport and the corporation will have to change for that run to end.

"Maybe if it went to China and you found some billionaires who would put the sport on and have million pound prize money you could start snooker as a core sport again," added the World No.8.

"(But) you're competing with Formula One, tennis, golf and the Olympics.

"They give it like 10 seconds on BBC Sports Personality - it's a complete insult to the sport but it's what they think of it and what they believe it warrants, and that says it all really."

Belfast Telegraph


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