World Snooker: Mark Williams STRIPS OFF after winning title
Mark Williams faces a desperate fight to save his World Snooker Championship hopes this morning as he returns to the Crucible for a decisive second session. Judd Trump dominated a scrappy first session on Thursday afternoon to claim a 7-1 lead. Trump won a nervy opening frame that lasted more than 30 minutes, before making two more breaks of 70. Williams responded by taking a frame of his own before the mid-session interval, but Trump pulled clear with three further half centuries.
The difficult session mirrored Williams’ second session of his quarter-final victory over Yan Bingtao, in which he was thumped 6-2 and suffered several lapses of concentration.
Dubbed the ‘Welsh Potting Machine’, three-time world champion William, found himself at the centre of snooker controversy a decade ago after he hit out at the Crucible.
Taking to Twitter in 2012, he labelled the Grade II listed building a “s***hole”.
He wrote: “World Championships just around the corner. Shame it’s played in the Crucible, s***hole, hopefully it will be in China soon.
“Rubbish, rather play in Pontins. Overhyped is correct.
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Mark Williams took aim at the Crucible in an expletive-ridden tweet a decade ago.
Williams renews his battle with Judd Trump this afternoon.
“It’s only my opinion about the Crucible WSA, so don’t send me any letters or fines.”
He later added: “I don’t like the venue and have never liked playing there.
“It is everything about it, from the players’ lounge upwards.
“It is inevitable it will end up in China — they have five events already and we have only three.”
The Crucible has held the World Snooker Championship since 1977.
Williams called for the World Championship to be moved to China.
Snooker chief Barry Hearn, however, hit back at both Williams and fellow star Mark Allen, who had shockingly accused Chinese opponent Cao Yupeng of cheating.
Mr Hearn responded: “Mark Allen’s and Mark Williams’s remarks are unacceptable to World Snooker and as such both players will face disciplinary action.
“It’s time that these people learn.
“Prize money has more than doubled in two years and that comes at a price — it’s called professionalism.
“Any player that decides to ignore the player’s contract he signs to take advantage of the new benefits of snooker [is] risking their position on the main tour.”
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Williams faces an uphill battle to beat Trump.
Mr Hearn added that he expected Williams to have “some common sense”.
He said: “Now is a very good time to be a snooker player, it’s not a good time to be an idiot.”
Specifically addressing his remarks about the Crucible, Mr Hearn told the BBC: “There is so much history associated with the Crucible, it is synonymous with snooker and the World Championship.
“There’s something unique and magical about the atmosphere in the arena which couldn’t be replicated anywhere else.
“We look forward to a wonderful Betfred.com World Championship and to great years ahead in Sheffield, the Snooker City.”
Barry Hearn said talks are underway to build a new Crucible.
The Crucible has again come under fire this year, with some players claiming it is too small.
Mr Hearn addressed the issue again, telling reporters that talks are underway for a new Crucible in Sheffield.
He said: “We have an agreement with Sheffield Council for the next five years. That will be honoured.
“I’ve always made it quite clear that while I’m alive I want snooker to stay in Sheffield.
“We’re synonymous with Sheffield, the history we have created.
“But there are early-stage talks at the moment with Sheffield Council. Why don’t we look at perhaps building a new Crucible in Sheffield?”
The venue currently holds just 900 fans, with Mr Hearn suggesting a new venue could hold between 2,000 and 2,500.
Mr Hearn stressed the venue could move out of Sheffield if the new project is not supported.
He said: “The Crucible name is synonymous with snooker globally, 500 million people will watch this event around the world, so the name has to remain.
“You can take history with you. It would be the original name, it would have the original design of the building, just a bit bigger.”
Coverage of Mark Williams vs Judd Trump begins on BBC Two at 10am.