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Allen in savage blast at snooker boss Hearn

By John Skilbeck

Mark Allen booked his place in the second round of the UK Championships in York yesterday afternoon and immediately launched an attack on World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn, during which he suggested he should leave his post.

World number 12 Allen was rarely troubled as he brushed past Adrian Gunnell 6-3 but rather than celebrate his win, he chose to hit out at Hearn, who moved in at the head of the game 18 months ago.

Northern Ireland's Allen claimed Hearn, who was voted in by the players, had vowed not to make changes to the sport's major tournaments, and is therefore unhappy that the first and second-round matches of this event, considered to be the second biggest on the calendar, have been reduced from 17 frames to 11.

The 25-year-old believes the World Championship could be the next to suffer, believing snooker is starting to replicate one of Hearn's other sports, darts, and said: “The players don't really matter, so **** the players.

“When Barry came in, one of the first things he said was that the World Championships, UK and Masters wouldn't be touched. Only 18 months later, the UK format has changed.

“I don't think he's pleasing too many players, but anyone who voted for him has only got themselves to blame. I wasn't one of them.

“I've got no doubt he'll tweak the World Championship. The whole tradition of the game is going to pot.

“It's not all about bringing people in to watch and have a good time, shouting and having a drink. He (Hearn) needs to get away from the darts factor.

“It's getting close to that. I think in the long run he'll probably do good for snooker, but not for my generation.

“It's time to let someone else have a go.”

Allen's outburst came minutes after Judd Trump installed Ronnie O'Sullivan as the favourite to win the mouthwatering last-16 clash between the two this afternoon.

Twenty-two-year-old Trump has emerged as the heir apparent to O'Sullivan — who turned 36 yesterday — as the people's champion, and the two players widely regarded as the game's entertainers will clash as a result of Trump's patchy 6-4 win over Dominic Dale yesterday.

Trump, who rose to prominence by reaching the World Championship final in May, has moved from his Bristol home to Essex to practice in the same club as O'Sullivan, and believes the three-time World Champion is the favourite to remain in Yorkshire.

“Ronnie is playing the best he has played for a long time and he is feeling the best he has for four or five years,” Trump said.

“He's really up for it. Hopefully I can give him a good game and if I can get on top of him maybe he'll get impatient, but the same goes for me.

“Two or three years ago I would have felt under pressure, but I think the pressure is on him. He is expected to beat me, he is expected to beat everyone.”

The China Open winner had looked as though he would be leaving the tournament yesterday when he trailed Dale 4-2, but two flukes in the seventh frame helped him post a break of 83 that kick-started a run of four successive frames to take him over the line.

He was far from convincing, though, with Dale, who impressed with a crisp second-frame 118, the better player early on.

“It was a tough game,” Trump added. “The conditions were not great, there were a lot of kicks and apart from the two flukes, nothing seemed to run my way.”

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