Ding Jun Hui will not play in the semi-finals of the Betfred Premier League on December 2-3 because the Chinese Snooker authorities insist he must compete for his country in the Asian Games in Doha.
As a result, the League organisers, Matchroom, have announced that the fifth placed player will take Ding's place and that 50% of the prize money they earn will go to the Hunter Foundation, set up by Paul Hunter's widow, Lindsey.
The Matchroom press release reads:
Following news that Ding Jung-hui of China will not now be able to compete in the Play-Offs of the 2006 Betfred Premier League Snooker, promoters Matchroom Sport and sponsors Betfred have decided to allow the fifth placed player at the conclusion of the League to assume Ding’s place in the semi-finals.
The provisional World No.4 from Shanghai had already qualified for the big money stages of the League following a string of impressive performances but following news that Ding’s home country of China has now insisted that he must represent them in the forthcoming Asian Games in Doha where he will be taking part in the snooker disciplines, the agreed changes have now been put in place.
The Betfred Premier League Snooker Play-Offs, which are already a sell-out, take place on the 2/3 December at the Forum Centre, Wythenshawe, Manchester, will now feature the fifth placed player who will take Ding’s place.
With Ronnie O’Sullivan already qualified, the affected players are Stephen Hendry, Jimmy White, Graeme Dott, Ken Doherty and Steve Davis who are all in with a chance of qualifying.
As a tribute to the late Paul Hunter, Betfred and Matchroom Sport and all the players concerned have agreed that 50% of all prize money won by the replacement player in the play-offs will go to the Hunter Foundation, a new charity set up by Paul’s wife Lindsey to help disabled and underprivileged youngsters play snooker.
Commented Fred Done, Chairman of Betfred, “The loss of Paul Hunter was a tragic blow for snooker and Ding’s absence represents a fantastic opportunity to do something positive in Paul’s name.
“The fifth placed player will effectively be playing for Paul and that will be a massive incentive for them to do well in the play-offs.”
Matchroom Sport Chairman Barry Hearn said, “With £50,000 for the champion, £25,000 for the runner-up and £12,500 for the beaten semi-finalists as well as any £1,000 century break bonuses hopefully the charity will get off to a flying start.”
In addition Ding Jun-hui has agreed to make an undisclosed donation to the fund.