Snooker: The Crucible is a rubbish venue, says Williams

Two-time world champion calls for sport's showpiece event to be relocated to China

The Crucible

Mark Williams, twice a world champion, yesterday took an amazing potshot at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre on the eve of this year's World Championship.

The Welshman, who won at the Crucible in 2000 and 2003, used Twitter to criticise the iconic venue and also said he hoped the tournament would be moved to China.

Williams said: "World Championships just around the corner. Shame its played in the crucible, sh*t hole [sic], hopefully it will be in China soon. Rubbish, rather play in Pontins."

When contacted, Williams confirmed he made the remarks, saying: "I don't like the venue, and have never liked playing there. It is everything about it, from the players' lounge upwards. I think it is inevitable it will end up in China, they have five events already and we only have three [in the UK]."

Williams also used Twitter to say: "Over-hyped is correct. It's only my opinion about the Crucible so [World Snooker] don't send me any letters or fines."

In response Barry Hearn, the World Snooker chairman, issued a statement that stressed he would be happy to keep snooker's biggest tournament at the Crucible permanently. The World Championship has been staged at the venue since 1977 and the current contract runs until 2015.

Hearn said: "We've had fantastic support from Sheffield City Council, Welcome to Yorkshire and the BBC, and as long as that continues I'd be happy to keep the event at the Crucible until the day I die. It's an outstanding venue and the refurbishment which recently took place has greatly improved the facilities. There is so much history associated with the Crucible, it is synonymous with snooker and the World Championship."

Williams is not the first professional player to make outspoken remarks on Twitter. The three-time world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan was disciplined by World Snooker earlier this season and the World Open winner Mark Allen was fined for calling the Beijing tournament "horrendous" and labelling Chinese people "ignorant".

Meanwhile, John Higgins, the defending champion, knows he will have to play well to retain his title.

"At the end of the day my poor form has been down to myself," said Higgins, who has won four world titles. "The previous season did take a lot out of me but I've not given the tournaments the respect they deserve this season."

Higgins faces China's Liang Wenbo today. He said: "I've got the butterflies now. I still want to win any event. It's not been great this season and it's not nice to see other people winning events. You become a little bit jealous, that's perhaps what spurs you on to keep winning titles.

"Being honest, you only get out what you put into tournaments – and I've not put a lot in at all. That's why I've got nothing out of them. I think you sometimes need a wake-up call to be honest. Throughout my career I've had high and low points, but I definitely think that if it doesn't happen at the World Championship then I'll definitely have a better season next year. I certainly can't have a worse season because it's been pretty bad."

Higgins dominated last season, after his return from a six-month ban for bringing the sport into disrepute. The world No 6 won the UK Championship and Welsh Open before claiming his fourth world title. But he also lost his father to cancer and, before being cleared of match-fixing, was heavily criticised by fans and fellow professionals, having been filmed by the News of the World, allegedly agreeing to take money for throwing frames.

At 36, he says the pressure of performing on the big stage does not make life any easier. "I've got no thoughts of retiring though, not at all," said Higgins. "But as you get older the pressure multiplies itself, that's why the older players start to lose the longer they play. It's just the pressure. I think I'm the only player who'd be prepared to say that, to be honest. Other players might say it's something different why they struggle.

"Maybe when you get older you can't handle the pressure in the same way you did when you were 20. When you get to a certain age you can't compete the same way. Maybe some players don't suffer from it, but I certainly do."

Steely performers: Three to watch in Sheffield

Ding Junhui

China's Ding has won the UK Championship and Masters titles, but needs the Crucible crown to complete the full set of majors. Was beaten 17-15 by Judd Trump in last year's semi-finals, and should come close.

Mark Allen

The outspoken Ulsterman has upset some people this year with his critical comments on how the sport is run, but aims to let his snooker do the talking having reached the UK Championship final in December.

Luca Brecel

The talented Belgian is the youngest ever qualifier for the Crucible at 17 years and 26 days. He had to win four tough matches just to make it to Sheffield and, like Trump last year, he has nothing to lose.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones