Ronnie O'Sullivan is such an enigma that we should perhaps not be surprised that his withdrawal from the Shanghai Masters has ended up being such a mystery that some bookmakers have now reinstated him in the betting.

For the avoidance of doubt: he's not going.

Worldsnooker.com put up a statement yesterday and then removed it but a new one will be released imminently.

O'Sullivan's problems are apparently not related to a back injury after all but are instead described as 'personal.'

I understand they are of an intensely private nature and have no intention of intruding into them.

However, his withdrawal is still a big disappointment for the tournament and his many fans.

Pretty much the only thing I've disagreed with Barry Hearn on so far is that O'Sullivan should be the sport's 'flag-bearer.'

It's a position he neither asked for nor wants. He's a complicated soul who can't be relied on to do off the table what he does with such distinction on it.

Let's hope he returns for the World Open. In the meantime, the tournament will survive without him even if it will miss him.

EDIT: And right on cue here is what O'Sullivan says in the statement:

"This has been a very difficult decision to make, however I have a very young family and at this moment I need to spend more time with them. I'm truly sorry to my fans in China, I love meeting and playing in front of some of the most passionate people in the world. I very much look forward to returning to China soon."

Hearn added: "It's very disappointing for his fans in China but we understand the personal reasons behind Ronnie's withdrawal."


Colin said...

Dave - who would you have as the flag-bearer of the sport, if not Ronnie?

Dave H said...

How about the world champion?

Anonymous said...

You can dress it uo anyway you like but the fact remains the same: he always puts himself ahead of the game

Only the most pig-headed fans who seem to think he is a living deity could possibly dispute that

Anonymous said...

It'll be a better tournament without him. At least the other players will get some attention rather than it being all about him.

Anonymous said...

as i said yesterday, the guys a joke.

hes entitiled to not play, but the list of excuses that conveniently arise when the far east tournaments are on make his earlier excuses seem even flimsier, despite the fact they MIGHT be true...

Snookerfan4711 said...

Oh my. NI just hope his family is all right? And I'm relieved that he finally gave us a good reason. Family problems are more important then a tournament...

Cloudyman said...

Would it have been better to have made this decision before the qualifiers? Give another pro a shot at the venue?
That is what annoys me.

Anonymous said...

I'm inclined to think that O'Sullivan can choose whether or not he wants to play or not. It happens in tennis, golf all the time - players choose their own itineraries to suit. There's no need to fabricate back injuries or personal issues, just say Shanghai isn't in my plans, that would be good enough for me. Are players under compulsion to participate in events they are qualified for? It would be harsh if they were.

In any case, I'd rather he didn't go than go and make a mockery out of the game by losing on purpose as he did to Pengfei last season.

Dave H said...

Players are not compelled to enter all the tournaments of they don't want to.

However, the entry dates are usually well in advance of the tournaments, so personal issues can arise that are unforeseen.

I happen to believe O'Sullivan is genuine about his reasons for not going but they are so personal that it's understandable he doesn't want to make them public.

The question remains as to whether he will receive any ranking points or prize money. I'd argue he shouldn't because he has withdrawn through choice, not illness.

Anonymous said...

Fact is Dave, as much as no-one wants to admit it, people pay to watch snooker to watch O'Sullivan. He may not be the right man for the flag bearer role, but he's stuck with it now.
The sad thing is although there probably IS something wrong with his family, no-one will believe him.


Anonymous said...

snooker won't be the game it was in the 80's and 90's before ronnie gets banned for life. he does nothing for the sport and there are other players who I much rather watch play such as Mark Williams, Neil Robertson or Shaun Murphy.

Snookerfan4711 said...

@ Cloudyman: Perhaps he didn't kow then?

@11.29: Indeed! This it what will happen in the Snooker Forums: They'll start calling him names again, and write things like "he damages Snooker more then he helps". Drives me up the wall any time it happens...

Anonymous said...

I find the whole situation a bitter disappointment. The game needs a lift and this is a marketing disaster. Personal reasons do come first, but this does happen rather too frequently for my liking. I wish him well though

RichP said...

Don't tell me one of the papers have got an expose of him in a hotel room with William Hague?

Anonymous said...

Its a pity because the one good thing about those foreign tournaments that are shown on Eurosport is the fact that we get to see O'Sullivan play every day. Just wont be the same now.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

I agree with most of these statements. If snooker had a tour like Tennis or Golf, then players have the right to go or not. Organisers must be disappointed when Woods or Federer decide not to take part.

I also think with O'Sullivan nowadays, the reasons are more truthful. His father is beginning to play a major part these days, and we never really know what is going on.

We also tend to forget, that O'Sullivan made the effort to turn up for the very first PTC in a barmy hot weekend in June, when the list of top players deciding not to go was hardly hear-nor-there.

With the other 'flag-bearer' of the sport, Higgins, about to learn his fate, I think it's time for a bit better PR from the other so called top players and take the sport to the public, just like Higgins/O'Sullivan/Williams did 15 years back...

Thanks, Joe

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately O'Sullivan IS pro snooker. Biggest draw, best player, most demanded by fans, sponsors and tv.
Maybe the way to go is incentivise him to go to these tournaments.
Private plane, appearence money, keep him away from the other players and let him fly back the second hes beat.
Whatever it takes to keep him sweet should be done. If snooker continues to treat him like another top player he may walk.
The games biggest asset should be protected and not just treated like your normal riff raff.

Anonymous said...

1:57 why not you pay for his private plane, appearence money. Total nonsense.

Betty Logan said...

Woods gets appearance money on top of regular prize money so I don't see why snooker can't do the same. The fact is he's a millionaire many times over so a 60k top prize isn't going to be much of a carrot when he clearly doesn't like overseas travelling. A 10k tournament appearance fee plus 5k for each session plus the prize money he plays would put his total earnings at 100k should he win, and I'm convinced he would turn out for that.

Anonymous said...

It's a clever tactic - it's so that in 2 years time he catches his fellow professionals off guard by leap-frogging them when their 2010 Shanghai ranking points are dropped.

jamie brannon said...

O'Sullivan is the flag bearer for the sport whether Dave, Ronnie or anyone else likes it.

Until he is no longer the best player, or the most exciting player that draws the biggest crowds then he takes that position just like Phil Taylor and Usain Bolt do in their respective sports.

He, is not a slick PR machine, but his general play and his complex character are what makes him the right 'flag bearer'.

Although, I agree with Dave this doesn't sit comfortably with him as he struggles with normality, judging from the outside anyway.

Anonymous said...

He's not the flag bearer if he's not in the tournament, you silly little fanboy

And unlike Taylor and Bolt, a sizeable number of people can't stand the man or his unprofessionalism

Anonymous said...

Jamie - he isn't the best player

A Hennigan said...

During the wonderful Alex Higgins documentary, Hearn commented that there wasn't a possibility of Higgins being part of his Matchroom group of players because he couldn't be relied on to fulfil his obligations. It's strange that he can't see the same traits in O'Sullivan.

To have him as a flag-bearer is redundant not only because of incidents such as this but because the sport needs to create an enthusiasm for top players across the board. Auditoriums will always be packed for Ronnie. More amiable players should fulfil this role and we can hopefully look forward to many more years of great play from O'Sullivan on the table.

These are always difficult situations. It will always be regarded with suspicion because of the fickle attitudes he has taken in the past - not least concerning the Asian tournaments. Nevertheless, that doesn't prohibit him from having genuine personal issues. It would be perfectly natural for a player who has been on tour for so long to want to divert more attention to his home life. I have no doubt we'll see him playing in Britain very soon - where he is truly needed.

jamie brannon said...

It depends on how you define a 'flag bearer'. For me it is either the best player or the most popular, which O'Sullivan is and you don't need to support Ronnie to know that.

Alternatively, do we require a flag bearer why not just have a slection of 'flag bearers' instead?

Cloudyman said...


Yeah, you are right, perhaps he didn't know then. So, in this case I will give him the benefit of the doubt.

It must be annoying to a fellow pro, however, when he pulls out late, or turns up and pulls out mid-match, doesn't bother going for a single snooker (or even less), or misses an easy black off the spot to stay in the match by slowly rolling it - when the fellow pro is sat at home.
And that is what annoys me.

Anonymous said...

Ronnie isn't the best. if he was he'd be world no.1 or world champion when in fact he's neither. He holds only one title and he can't be bothered to defend that.

And as for being the most popular - he's also the most unpopular.

SupremeSnooker.com said...

Ronnie O’Sullivan is snooker’s flag bearer in the sense that he can put bums on seats and increase TV audiences like no one else can. Of the modern crop of players, he’s easily the best known by the general public. It’s no coincidence that every week of Premier League fixtures features either O’Sullivan or Neil Robertson.
However, there are aspects of his behaviour that I just cannot condone. The little farce of the last 24 hours or so has seen him withdraw from the Shanghai Masters due to a back injury, only for him to appear in the Premier League just hours later. Once the obvious contradiction was spotted, the story was removed from the World Snooker website.
Now he claims he needs to spend more time with his family. If there is a genuine family problem that requires his presence at the moment, then that would’ve been a good enough reason in itself without him having to blame a back problem.
But the fact that he’s withdrawn from so many overseas tournaments in general over the last few years is bound to make people wonder whether he’s genuine.
Sponsors, broadcasters and spectators put their money into snooker because they’re expecting to see the strongest possible field. They have good reason to feel let down by O’Sullivan.
I know O’Sullivan is a ‘character’ and I welcome that, but there are times when he says things that are just unacceptable. There cannot be a repeat of those crude sexual references he made in China a few years ago.
I was also very annoyed by his remarks about the World Championship at the launch of Power Snooker. People work very hard to secure sponsors and broadcast partners for snooker’s blue riband event, and huge damage can be done by someone as high profile as O’Sullivan undermining it.
O’Sullivan has a vital role to play in snooker’s transformation in the next few years IF he can: 1. Behave himself. 2. Become more reliable. 3. Start performing to his true ability- there have been too many lacklustre performances from him in the last 12 months.

Dave H said...

In Ronnie's defence it wasn't he who mentioned his back

Dave H said...

Well actually he did blame it for pulling out of EPTC1

Anonymous said...

stop defending him Dave!

the guy is a (albeit gifted at snooker) disater!

CHRISK5 said...

Taking James Scott's snippet of info into account - the official explanation for the withdrawal can only be described,at best,as a
vague half-truth.

I disagree with those who say Ronnie should be pampered even more - the new era is supposed to be a meritocracy,no play,no gain etc - it applies in the PTC,so it
should in ranking events too.

The top players already have the
Masters,Premier League,Power Snooker & can command a higher apperance fee for exhibitions,
so there are plenty of perks &
bonuses on offer already.

But,giving Ronnie more tour priveleges would send out the wrong message - even then,he would still come out with inane & nonsensical comments that either
undermine himself or Snooker too.

Snooker has a host of players who can do dependable PR - Davis,White,
Doherty,Robertson,Murphy,Selby etc,
just let Ronnie play Snooker because that's what he is very,very good at.

I agree Barry Hearn has a blind spot with Ronnie & BH must become more objective & balanced in this

Whether O'Sullivan gets minimum starter pts for Shanghai is now
a crucial acid test of supposed balance & objectivity - based on the facts,he shouldn't get points.
Even with a doctors note,I would have argued he only get half.

Anonymous said...

O ,Sullivan doesn't care about starter points or 1st round prizemoney.
He likes to play sometimes and doesn't other times.
Barry Hearn doesn,t become the worlds premiere promoter of pool, snooker, darts and a host of other sports by having blind spots or caring about the opinions of idiots like chrisk5.
If Mark King or Joe Perry pulled out there wouldnt be a peek out of any of the whiners.
Fact is, your all ronnie fanboys and your gutted hes not playing. get over it. He,ll be back when it suits him.

CHRISK5 said...

Anon 12.13 am - Withdrawing from any event is one thing - but having the precursor of an injury hoax & swiftly changing tactics when someone (JS) lets the cat out the bag is another matter.

It's the intention of deceit which
leaves a sour taste for some.

For me,it's a rather amusing tale
of HOW NOT to withdraw from a
tournament !

James said...

Having just watched the Alex Higgins memorial tribute, I'd say ...

Be glad you got O'Sullivan.

Give him whatever leeway he wants.

Be thankful he is not like the other boys.

He is a unique asset that doesn't come along very often and when he's gone, everyone will be sorry.


Anonymous said...


has World snooker explained why it put one post up one day and then removed it, to put up a completely different post on the subject the next day?

John McBride said...

My biggest concern is that because of the ambiguity that is now associated with him pulling out of this tournament, toilet papers like the NOTW will no doubt be sniffing around him trying to find something that is not as yet in the public domain, by trying to find out why they feel he has pulled out & put their spin on things.

At the end of the day, this hasn't been handled well, whether any of us like it or not, & papering over the cracks trying to justify his withdrawal, will not do the game any good whatsoever.

If the fella needs a break from the game, let him say it & more importantly, give the fella a break & let him have it.

Anonymous said...


i wont be sorry when he is gone, from snooker. no WAY!

kildare cueman said...

I agree with John MCBride @ 12.39.

It makes me laugh to see some prefect like bloggers screaming for redemption every time O'Sullivan makes some minor transgression.

Now approaching the twilight of his career, financially secure, and having achieved the bulk of what he's going to achieve, he would find it only too easy to walk away and retire to a life of stress free leisure with his family.

He is not bigger than the game but will leave a huge hole if he quits.
Those who think the game would be better off without him don't appreciate the finer aspects of snooker and certainly don't know anything about business or marketing.

He is the biggest asset and crowd puller in the game by a country mile, and much as it irks his detractors must be allowed tolerance that may not be allowed generally, as long as all is level on the playing field.

Snooker is a commercial entity, not a socialist community project, and as such has to turn a profit to ensure its' survival.

Its crowd pullers must be protected, and if that means giving Jimmy White a wildcard instead of the upwardly mobile future star, or turning a blind eye to O'Sullivans' annoying but relatively harmless misgivings, then so be it.

jamie brannon said...

If you ask the majority of the players who is the best, then they would say Ronnie.

Judging from Jan Verhaas tweet's you would think he knew John Higgins was innocent, but he will look very silly if he is found guilty.

World Champion doesn't mean you are the best, Graeme Dott certainly wasn't in 2006.

Number one has more validity in this regard, but it is not sacrosanct.

Anonymous said...

kc obviously blinded by ronnies perfection

Anonymous said...

I hate to say it but ChrisK is right, why wheel out O'Sullivan to make some pointless, inane comments about how "boring" the Crucible is, when we have Robertson, among others, who would probably be only to happy to do some PR work at a moments notice? Let the Rocket play snooker, and let everyone else handle the PR.


Anonymous said...

Jamie - most players think John Higgins is the best player

As for your other arguments, they really are incredibly naive

kildare cueman said...

There is no overall "best" at the moment. You could argue the case for Robertson or Higgins for the last two years, O'Sullivan for a bit before that and Williams early on in the decade.

There are departments or specific components of the game where some players excel over others, namely potting, position, safety, shot selection, bottle and consistency.

If you were to give a score to each player for each of those compartments I suspect that Higgins would come out on top overall, but not by much.

Anon @ 4.17, my last post may look as if I was "blinded by Ronnies perfection" but thats not the case. The point I am trying to make is that there are millions of fans, most of them casual, who ARE blinded by his brilliance, and in that respect he is a valuable asset for selling the game.

He has to be used correctly though, and by that, I mean, let him play, shake hands and go home.

I think WS should use a good bull thrower like Murphy or Doherty to front the game.

They're eloquent, haven't got a horrible cockney accent and don't say stupid things.

Anonymous said...


hes put on a pedestal and treated leike a little child (which a lot would say he acts like).

that is now the reason why snooker is in the situation that it feels it may not be able to cope well without him.

its their own doing

continuing to do so is wrong, cause time stops for nobody and it will have to come eventually.

so do it now those in charge of snooker and treat him the way he treats YOU - like a bit of chewing gum on his shoe!

snookerfan4711 said...

well having read the last comments made me realise again that Ronnie does one thing even more perfect then playing Snooker: Polarise. There are those who really dislike him and would love to see him baned for life and there are those who defend him - no matter what. (I count myself more to the last group, then in the first)
Fact: He stays at home because of family problems. If it would have been Ryan Day, who withdraw then no one would have make such a fuzz about it...
@John McBride: I'm afaraid your right here. The vulture - tabloids will sneak around him now in hope to find anything :-( My guess is that he said backinjurie to avoid exactly that.

Anonymous said...

After playing in the fist EPTC event In Germany i can certanly agree with most about Ronnie and his last minute excuses. But to my shock living with most of these players for 4 days there are some real charactors that go un noticed. i had the time of my life last week and meet so many great personalities in the game.

Anonymous said...

SF, your arguement is flawed

if it was Ryan who done it AND HAD DONE IT SO MANY TIMES IN THE PAST then people would bat an eyelid....AND THAT IS THE ISSUE.

ROn hasnt done it just the one time

at least make your arguement on a level playing field.

and just because you type FACT he stays at home cause of family problems wont make everyone think its true, casue some of us arent gullible and think that the timing of it is just coincidence after about 6 excuses for not going to the far east with roughly the same timing.....each to their own what they believe. i dont take into account his ability when i make my judgement of what i believe.

i take inot account the real FACTS

and not what you type as fact.

Anonymous said...

well said 1224. its just a pity that nobody else gets a look in and world snooker cant see the bigger picture of the hole they are digging for themselves by continuing to treat ron special and letting him do what he wants to.

i cant imagine many "top" sportsmen who can get away with making "masturbation gestures" on live tv in front of an audience with children in it....

Anonymous said...

Along with the obvious curiosity about his personal issues I am sad to see him miss Shanghai Masters.

Even though some people passionately dislikes him for it he brings along tension as well as excitement every time. Is he in a good mood or on the verge of walking out? Will he collapse or produce greatness? That sort of thing. I root for Ronnie every time he plays (except when he plays Hendry or Davis...) because of his performance at the table. Any off-table drama that takes away his focus is regrettable but evidently still part of the O'Sullivan package. So be it.

Anonymous said...

tbh though if Ronnie wasn't playing the game would be nowhere, people wouldn't turn up and watch, its the unpredictability that makes people a fan of snooker.

You ask people how they got interested in snooker and many would say either Alex Higgins or Ronnie O'Sullivan, (similar characters don't you think)

I have yet to speak to a snooker fan who got interested in snooker because of the likes of Anthony Hamilton :(

Anonymous said...

i dont think those two are similar

alex was oustanding

ron is appor imitation

and i disagree with the comment about nobody turning up to watch. that happens when he isnt playing now, cause WS has mollycoddled him and the fans into......

Anonymous said...

3.51 What drugs are you on. Behaviour wise O'Sullivan is an angel compared to what Higgins was.
Playing ability, Higgins wouldn't have taken a frame off O'Sullivan. He'd have blown him away.

Anonymous said...

and you ask me about drugs i am on?

ignorance is bliss

list all the bad things both done and im sure they are very comparible.