Ronnie O’Sullivan’s astonishing attack on fellow professionals BACKED by snooker chief Barry Hearn

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Ronnie O'Sullivan's astonishing attack on fellow professionals BACKED by snooker chief Barry Hearn

Snooker supremo Barry Hearn insists he had no problem with Ronnie O’Sullivan’s verbal attack on his fellow professionals – because a lot of what he said is true.

O’Sullivan, the world number six, astonishingly claimed he would have to ‘lose an arm and a leg’ to fall out of the top 50 as the standard lower down the rankings is ‘so bad’.

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O’Sullivan edged a high-quality contest with Ding Junhui on Sunday

His remarkable interview came after ‘The Rocket’, 44, beat Ding Junhui 13-10 to book his place in the World Championship quarter-finals, where he faces 45-year-old Marc Williams, another man who has been immovable at the top of the game for more than two decades.

The duo first met in 1994, and O’Sullivan claims they have been able to dominate alongside John Higgins because the young players coming through are ‘not that good really’.

O’Sullivan is no stranger to an outlandish statement and Hearn, the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association chairman, has taken issue with his comments on multiple occasions.

But having known the five-time world champion for more than 30 years, managing him twice, Hearn has no problem with what O’Sullivan said yesterday and insists it carries an element of truth.

“It’s classic Ronnie O’Sullivan,” Hearn told talkSPORT. “He’s thoroughly entertaining on the table and he’s getting even funnier off the table.

“I think he’s marvellous! Is it insulting to his fellow professionals? If it’s his opinion, it doesn’t really matter. He says it as he sees it.

“A lot of them beat him on occasions. This is the first time Ronnie’s been in the quarter-finals of the World Championships for three years.

Hearn and O’Sullivan go way back

Hearn and O’Sullivan go way back

“A lot of lower-rated players have beaten Ronnie in tournaments, but they don’t beat him every week because they’re not good enough to beat him every week.

“Maybe these remarks will give them a bit more get up and go.

“At the end of the day, results speak for themselves. Ronnie has been an outstanding player that can beat most players.

He added: “I think the playing standard has gone up over the last few years, the playing depth is stronger than it was in Ronnie’s prime.

O’Sullivan’s fellow pros won’t have liked what they heard

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O’Sullivan’s fellow pros won’t have liked what they heard

“What we are seeing is different countries producing different levels of talent and we’re a bit short on domestic snooker, in terms of the UK market.

“I can’t get upset with his comments because, ultimately, a lot of it is true.”

That said, O’Sullivan’s comments are bound to be ill-received by his fellow professionals.

And Hearn admits ‘The Rocket’ won’t be the most popular man amongst the players.

When asked if the other guys like him, Hearn said: “Not particularly, I wouldn’t have thought.”

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