Stephen Hendry admits Ronnie O’Sullivan’s future is a worry for snooker

Ronnie O’Sullivan remains snooker’s biggest draw at 47 years old (Picture: PA)

Stephen Hendry admits it is a concern for snooker that Ronnie O’Sullivan is the ‘lone, true star’ of the sport and is firmly into the second half of his epic career.

The Rocket is still the biggest name in the game, the most reliable draw and is ranked number one in the world despite turning 48 later this year.

Hendry and O’Sullivan share the World Championship-winning record with seven titles each and the Scot says it will be a problem for snooker when the Englishman eventually hangs up his cue.

Asked about O’Sullivan’s importance to the game by Simon Jordan on Up Front, Hendry said: ‘Hugely important. If he’s not in a tournament it’s not the same. That is a worry.

‘His truly great performances are going to be fewer and further between now than they were because he’s getting older, he’s doing other things. Getting himself up to play a tournament is going to be harder and harder.

‘On his day he’s still the best player by a mile. If he plays his best he wins.

‘He is the superstar of snooker. He’s the only player who won’t go to China unless he’s getting appearance money, and he’ll get it. As far as I know, no other players are charging appearance money. He is the lone, true star in snooker.

‘So that’s a worry. Although there are other players playing an unbelievable standard of snooker. [Neil] Robertson, [Judd] Trump, [Mark] Williams, [Mark] Selby, they’re all unbelievable snooker players. But unfortunately, and I think they know this, he is the one that brings that bit of stardust to the tournament.’

Hendry also gave his take on the future of the World Championship and whether it should remain at the Crucible beyond the current contract with the venue which runs until 2027.

The Sheffield theatre has hosted the event since 1977 but there has been talk of a possible move to a bigger venue elsewhere, or even a switch to the Middle East in order to boost prize money.

Stephen Hendry wants the World Championship to stay in Sheffield (Picture: Getty Images)

The man known as The King of The Crucible does not want to see that happen, saying he would hate to see the World Championship leave the venue, but revealed that world number four Judd Trump would be happy to see a move if it meant more money in the pot.

Asked whether he thinks The Crucible should be protected, Hendry said: ‘I do, but I might be considered old school. I spoke to Judd about it in China and Judd would like to see it in Saudi Arabia if the first prize becomes £2m.

‘But how would he feel about playing a World Championship in front of 20 people? He basically said he doesn’t care as long as he’s getting the big prize money, but I’d hate to see it.’

The 54-year-old suggested that a move to the Middle East would be a worry based on his experience with the Dubai Classic which ran from 1989-94.

‘The worrying this is, we played a ranking tournament in Dubai in the early 90s. Basically it was dropped like a stone when they weren’t interested anymore,’ he said.

‘That would be my fear. If Saudi Arabia took it and then got bored of the snooker and didn’t want it anymore. Where do you go from there?’

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