Snooker: Organisers welcome Higgins return

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The organiser of this week's Euro Players Tour Championship event in Germany is excited by John Higgins' return to the game tomorrow.

The triple world champion's six-month ban for "intentionally giving the impression to others that he was agreeing to act in breach of the betting rules" expires in time for him to take to the baize in Hamm, where he will face Joe Jogia in the first round.

Tournament organiser Thomas Cesal said: "We are certain it is not just him itching to come back but also his fans are eager to see him.

"We are delighted to be able to present John back at the table."

Higgins, who was cleared of the more serious charges of "agreeing or offering" to accept bribes and "agreeing to engage in corrupt or fraudulent conduct", has admitted his nerves over his comeback - and in particular the likely response of his fellow players - admitting the prospect is "like going to the dentist".

Ireland's Fergal O'Brien, who takes on Dermot McGlinchey on Saturday in the first round of the tournament, admitted: "I'm curious myself to see how players will react."

But the Dubliner asserted Higgins' right to return to the sport, and told RTE: "I think generally people will be of the opinion that he did wrong, but he has to carry on with it now and [be allowed to] get his career back under way.

"He has a tournament this weekend in Germany and next weekend in Prague, and then in December is one of our majors, the UK Championship.

"He has not picked up a cue in five months and is only back practising in the last month without any matches, so he will be ring-rusty. But he has two opportunities to get that out of the way and, come December, it's only the crowd's reaction in Britain, if there is going to be one, that is the last hurdle."