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Mark Allen: UK snooker will suffer after World changes

By Frank Brownlow

Mark Allen, ahead of his World Championship clash with Michael Holt, has voiced concerns that snooker is being pushed out of the United Kingdom.

"UK snooker is dying a death really," said the Ulsterman, who following yesterday's draw faces Nottingham cueman Holt on Tuesday and Wednesday, the winner taking on 2010 World champion Neil Robertson or qualifier Robbie Williams.

"In the last four or five years the televised tournaments in the UK are getting less and less.

"It's being pushed more to the Middle East and the Far East. I know (World Snooker chairman) Barry Hearn is talking about branching out to Qatar and Bahrain and places like that.

"It's a sorry state of affairs for UK snooker, but for snooker in general it's probably great, it's becoming a global sport," he said.

The £1.25m World Championship starts at the Crucible in Sheffield tomorrow with Ronnie O'Sullivan beginning his title defence against Robin Hull (10am).

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP FIRST ROUND: O'Sullivan (Eng) v Hull (Fin), Perry (Eng) v Burnett (Sco), Fu (HK) v Gould (Eng), Murphy (Eng) v Cope (Eng), Hawkins (Eng) v Gilbert (Eng), Walden (Eng) v Wilson (Eng), M Davis (Eng) v Dale (Wal), Ding (Chn) v Wasley (Eng), Selby (Eng) v White (Wal), Carter (Eng) v Xiao (Chn), Higgins (Sco) v McManus (Sco), Bingham (Eng) v Doherty (Ire), Trump (Eng) v Ford (Eng), Maguire (Sco) v Day (Wal), Allen (NI) v Holt (Eng), Robertson (Aus) v Williams (Eng).

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