Ronnie O’Sullivan has warned he will quit snooker if he is restricted from playing non-tour events in China, saying his career is at a “crossroads”.
Exhibition events in East Asia are becoming increasingly lucrative but often clash with World Snooker Tour dates.
Seven-time world champion O’Sullivan and other UK-based players are contracted to play in WST tournaments and could face sanctions if they miss events.
“If I can’t go and do what I need to do, which is play a lot in China, I won’t ever play again,” he told the BBC. “So, we’re at a kind of crossroads now.
“If that gets to the point where I’m not able to do that, I’m not allowed to do that, I probably won’t play. I’ll probably go and play Chinese 8-Ball because I still want to play snooker, I still want a cue in my hand.
“There’s just not enough here in the UK for me to justify the effort that I put in.
“If someone’s going to respect me and value me more, why would I not go there? It’s like being in an unhealthy relationship with someone. Why would you be in that?”
O’Sullivan, who said he wanted to play snooker for many years to come, has famously derided the standard on the WST in the past, suggesting he would need to lose a limb to drop down the rankings.
He still adopts that stance, claiming he is “revolted” by mediocrity.
“I don’t think it’s very hard to be a top-16 snooker player. I could probably get away with playing once a week for two or three hours a day,” said the 47-year-old.
“I find it hard to put myself in their shoes because I was in their shoes and I didn’t accept top 50 as OK.
“I’m not a great lover for mediocrity... I find it quite revolting in some ways, when I see people accepting that. That’s why I don’t hang around snooker people at venues because I just don’t like seeing it.
“I don’t think there’s enough good matches. I think there’s a lot of players that people don’t know, that don’t play the game in the right way.”
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