The chairman of snooker’s governing body has said he believes Ronnie O’Sullivan should not be heavily punished for walking out of his Maplin UK Championship quarter-final against Stephen Hendry at York last Thursday.
O’Sullivan was trailing 4-1 in the best of 17 frames clash but leading 24-0 in the sixth frame when he conceded the match.
It was widely assumed the game’s most controversial star would face the full weight of disciplinary action for his behaviour but Sir Rodney Walker, chairman of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, told BBC Radio 5 Live that he prefers a lenient approach.
“I was at least pleased and relieved that within a very short period of time a statement was issued on Ronnie's behalf apologising to the spectators, the viewers and Stephen Hendry for his behaviour but it ought not to have happened in the first place,” walker said.
“Ronnie from time to time does suffer from depression and things of that nature. We owe it to the fellow to at least give him the chance to explain to us what state of mind he was in when he walked out.
“We will do whatever is appropriate. We’re not frightened of him but if there is a way to help to refocus I’d rather do that than hit him with a stick.
“At some stage I suppose you begin to run out of patience. I doubt whether we've reached that stage yet.”
Actually, it isn’t up to Walker to decide on the punishment but the WPBSA disciplinary committee.
The identities of those who sit on this committee are shrouded in unnecessary secrecy but the chairman is believed to be WPBSA board member Jim McMahon.
One question, though, for Walker: what does O’Sullivan have to do to make snooker bosses run out of patience?