York gets thumbs-up from Hearn to continue hosting top event

World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn has confirmed York will continue to host the UK Championship.
Barry HearnBarry Hearn
Barry Hearn

Hearn has promised the players who complained about playing conditions at the Barbican Centre during last month’s tournament, which for the first time featured a 128-player line-up, that the venue will be better equipped in 2014 to meet their needs.

Hearn said: “I’m delighted to tell you we are going back to the Barbican Centre. We love the venue; we love the people up there.

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“We didn’t get it 100 per cent right with logistics; we will second time. You don’t change the world overnight. Sometimes it takes at least a fortnight.

“With the new layout, I think the players are going to like it.”

The early stages at the Barbican saw four tables running side by side in the main arena and four more in an ancillary sports hall venue.

Hearn’s plans for “four tables in the main arena and four tables in the practice hall” suggested little change was on the cards, but he is pledging every player will be treated equally and given a fair proportion of the spotlight.

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“Everyone plays one round ‘outside’ and then comes into the arena,” said Hearn.

Jason Ferguson, chairman of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association and a World Snooker board member, had said during the UK Championship he would be open to moving the tournament to Coventry’s Ricoh Arena, which staged the successful Champion of Champions event in November.

York has staged the UK Championship since 2011, having previously been host city each year from 2001 to 2006.

Shaun Murphy, meanwhile, launched an inspired comeback to beat Marco Fu 6-4 and reach the Masters semi-finals.

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The Sale-based player trailed 3-0 and 4-1 before finding his most fluent break-building form to reel off five frames in succession at Alexandra Palace to deny Fu, who had knocked out Judd Trump in round one.

Asked what happened to spark the turnaround, Murphy said: “I’ve no idea – and isn’t that the frustrating thing about snooker?

“When it’s going bad, you’ve no idea why, and when it’s going well you’ve no idea. We’re all absolutely clueless. I’ve realised playing my natural, more aggressive style is where it’s at for me. The likes of (Mark) Selby and (Neil) Robertson are more rounded players but that’s not my style, it’s not the way I’m made.

“I came here with no form whatsoever and I’m just on a bonus now. I can’t wait to play again.”

Murphy was left to wait for the identity of his next opponent with Mark Selby taking on John Higgins last night.