World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn has labelled Ronnie O’Sullivan’s bullying allegations “unfounded” and hinted that he could sue the former No1 for his latest outburst.
O’Sullivan complained about his treatment from the game’s governing body on Sunday after completing a first-round win over Gary Wilson at the World Championship in Sheffield.
The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) warned the five-time Crucible winner about his behaviour after he criticised a referee and swore at a photographer during the Masters in January.
“I personally take any accusation of ‘bullying and intimidation’ by me or World Snooker very seriously,” Hearn said on Monday.
“Unfounded accusations such as these are damaging to World Snooker’s global reputation, as well as my own, and we will take whatever action is required to protect this reputation from such inaccurate comments.
“I hope all parties can move on from this position and concentrate on the brilliant entertainment provided by players at the World Championship.”
O’Sullivan revived talk of quitting snooker for reality television after his 10-7 win over Wilson at the weekend, blaming Hearn and the WPBSA for what he perceived to be unfair treatment.
“I’ve had it for five, six, seven years, and I’m just done with it,” said the 41-year-old.
“I could go and do Big Brother, I could go and do I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here, I could have a great life doing other stuff. This is something I do for love, but I’m not going to do it and have people trying to intimidate me and bully me.”
The Essex cueman’s threat followed months of unusual behaviour, including acting up in broadcast interviews by adopting a robotic voice and singing Oasis songs.
Stuart Bingham, meanwhile, saw off the challenge of fellow former champion Peter Ebdon to reach the second round 10-5 on Monday.