Ronnie O’Sullivan launches fresh attack on ‘hell-hole’ English Open venue full of angry old men and screaming kids

RONNIE O’SULLIVAN says the English Open venue is  unsuitable for snooker — because it is full of angry old men and screaming kids.

After Monday’s first-round win over Kurt Maflin, the Rocket dubbed the K2 leisure centre in Crawley “a hell-hole” that “smells of urine”.

 Ronnie O'Sullivan stood by his comments about the Crawley venue

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Ronnie O'Sullivan stood by his comments about the Crawley venue

He also accused the game’s  governing body, World Snooker, of “cutting corners” amid fears for players’ security.

On Tuesday, the five-time snooker world champion stood by those comments, saying he was forced to pose for post-match photos next to a smelly toilet for five minutes.

And, in a fresh attack O’Sullivan, 42, ranted on Eurosport: “I don’t think what I said was harsh at all. The facts are the facts.

“When I was walking through the other day, one old boy told Peter Ebdon, ‘Can you stop walking while I’m trying to play bowls?’

 The Rocket launched a fresh blast at the crowd

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The Rocket launched a fresh blast at the crowd

“Peter thought he was joking and started laughing. But the old boy said, ‘OK. I’m going to start walking through while you’re playing snooker!’

“A top player shouldn’t be subject to some old guy who is really angry.

“Maybe they should take some of the prize money out and reinvest it into the budget to make the venue much more suitable for the players.

“For the players, money comes secondary when they’re playing in a tournament. They want nice facilities and a nice venue.

“A place where you can put your cue down and feel like you can focus on what you can do.

“The whole venue is completely spread out. We are being asked to go through the foyer of the leisure centre when there are maybe 150 kids running around.

“As a player you don’t mind where you play. It helps if it is in Cardiff or a nice city.

“But as a player, you spend most of your time at the venue. You want facilities at the venue to be right.

“You don’t want to be traipsing through families and kids, who are going swimming and have their flip-flops and snorkels on. You want to be in your bubble sometimes.”

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O’Sullivan, who faces Allan Taylor in the second round today, repeated his accusation about the smell. He said:  “They put me by some toilet to stand and smell it for four to five minutes. It was quite off-putting.

“Nobody wants to be subject to smelling urine. Maybe for about 30 seconds when you are in the toilet. I mean that’s what toilets are for.

“But five or six minutes posing for photographs? Well, it gets into your system."

 Ronnie O'Sullivan is not the only player to criticise the choice

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Ronnie O'Sullivan is not the only player to criticise the choice

World No 16 Stephen Maguire, who beat James Cahill 4-3 yesterday morning, agreed with the Rocket. He said the prestigious event “shouldn’t be in a leisure centre”.

But four-time world champion John Higgins, 43, said: “It’s different for Ronnie as he’s working for Eurosport and  has to stay here.

“That’s maybe what he is saying. He is being accosted more than usual. But I’m sure he’s getting paid good money.

“You have to take the rough with the smooth.”

RONNIE O’SULLIVAN says the English Open venue is  unsuitable for snooker — because it is full of angry old men and screaming kids.