UK Championship 2016: Ronnie O’Sullivan says pro tour should be cut

Ronnie O'Sullivan

World number eight Ronnie O’Sullivan, 40, will play fellow Englishman Liam Highfield or Stevens’ countryman Mark Williams

Five-time champion Ronnie O’Sullivan says snooker’s professional tour should be cut and “the tail is wagging the dog” after a fourth win saw him reach the UK Championship quarter-finals.

The world number eight overcame a testing start to beat Wales’ Matthew Stevens, the 2003 winner, 6-2.

England’s O’Sullivan had lost only one frame in his three previous wins at this year’s tournament.

“There are a lot of players I watch out there and they can’t play,” he said.

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“That’s no disrespect, they just can’t play. They are never going to be good enough.

“With too many 128 events, I always think that is quantity over quality. We have a lot of quantity, but very few quality events.”

Sixteen of the 19 ranking tournaments involve 128 players, with three further high-profile invitational events involving just the top players.

Earlier in the week O’Sullivan said snooker was becoming a “nothing type sport” and compared it to a “car-boot sale”, while other sports like golf and Formula 1 were more akin to “shopping in Harrods”.

Top tournaments for top players

“When you are trying to cater for 128 it is maybe holding back the sport when it could maybe do better if they thought about more tournaments for the top 32 or top 16,” he added.

“Big promoters would generally not want to be messing around with too many people who don’t pull in the crowds or the viewing figures.

“There should be more for the top players. Top players should be rewarded, have more classy events to play in and should be treated differently.

“You need to look after your top players. It’s like the tail wagging the dog in a way.”

O’Sullivan, who faces either fellow Englishman Liam Highfield or Stevens’ countryman Mark Williams in Friday’s quarter-finals, scored a rapid century to open his last-16 victory on Wednesday.

And although Stevens responded with a 74, the ‘Rocket’ stole a crucial third frame and scored three more 50s to win through.

Murphy rules

World number six Shaun Murphy beat China’s Zhou Yuelong 6-2, hitting two tons and two half centuries to win the last four frames.

In Wednesday’s evening session world champion Mark Selby plays China’s Zhang Anda, while Hong Kong’s Marco Fu takes on Oliver Lines, who beat world number three Judd Trump in the second round.

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