Snooker supremo hits back quickly after five-time world champ The Rocket slams the governing body over their warning letter
SNOOKER supremo Barry Hearn has escalated the row with his No 1 box office star Ronnie O’Sullivan.
The Rocket caused a storm at the World Championship on Sunday by accusing Hearn and the governing bodies of “bullying”.
Five-time title-holder O’Sullivan’s astonishing outburst stemmed from a letter he received after the Masters in January, warning him of possible disciplinary action.
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He criticised ref Terry Camilleri and swore at a photographer — though no action was taken.
Many questioned that let-off — but O’Sullivan sees himself as the victim of unfair treatment for his comments in recent years.
Last night World Snooker chairman Hearn issued a tit-for-tat legal warning after O’Sullivan said he might himself use lawyers.
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He said: “I personally take any accusation of ‘bullying and intimidation’ by me or World Snooker very seriously.
“Unfounded accusations such as these are damaging to World Snooker’s global reputation, as well as my own.
“We will take whatever action is required to protect this reputation from such inaccurate comments.”
Former champion Stuart Bingham shrugged off his forthcoming betting hearing by moving into the second round at the Crucible.
He beat 2002 winner Peter Ebdon 10-5, then seemed to show some sympathy for O’Sullivan by saying: “Players feel they can’t be open about what they think.”