Tour rebels should miss World Championship - Murphy

Shaun Murphy smiles as he chalks his cue
Shaun Murphy is a non-executive player director with the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association [Getty Images]

Former Crucible champion Shaun Murphy believes any player who joins a potential breakaway tour should not be allowed to play in snooker's biggest events - including the World Championship.

On Saturday, 2019 winner Judd Trump revealed he had rejected an approach to join a possible new tour and said he was "not interested one bit" in leaving the existing World Snooker Tour (WST).

Murphy, who won the sport's biggest prize in 2005, said: "The players are talking about it. I've not been approached by anybody, I don't know anything about it and nobody has rung me. I've got no interest in it.

"I'm led to believe some players have signed NDAs (non-disclosure agreements). I heard my name mentioned with people saying I've signed an NDA but I haven't. I will finish this season and will look to return to the tour next season."

Trump, 34, said he had been contacted a few months ago but told potential investors to "go away", adding he was "very happy where I am" and preferred the "history and heritage" of the WST.

"I was pleased to see Judd nail his colours to the mast," said 41-year-old Murphy, who lost 13-9 to Scotland’s Stephen Maguire in the last 16 on Sunday.

"I've seen comments from players saying they have to make choices for their families. These players have taken and taken from the sport and they want to take even more and good luck to them.

"It's a shame they've not considered putting a bit more back into a tour that's given them so much before they run away."

'Stick your flag in ground and declare loyalty'

Shaun Murphy holding the World Championship trophy
Shaun Murphy beat Matthew Stevens in the 2005 World Championship final [Getty Images]

Murphy, a non-executive player director on the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA), called the current speculation "rumours and hearsay".

However, he believes if a breakaway tour does take off then players should have a choice of playing there or on the WST - but not both.

Murphy added: "They can play on the WST in major Triple Crown [World Championship, Masters and UK Championship] events with the history and prestige that Judd talks about or they can play on a new tour with an unknown backer and people we don’t know.

"How long will this pot of money last for? It's a case of be careful what you wish for.

"I wouldn't like a situation where players can go off and then come back to the Triple Crown events. I don't think that should happen. You stick your flag in the ground and declare your loyalty somewhere."

'It's interesting - my door is always open'

Stephen Maguire in the news conference
Stephen Maguire has reached the semi-finals of the World Championship in 2007 and 2012 and is in the 2024 quarter-finals [Getty Images]

Seven-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, 48, has said he is open to any proposition and urged players to do what was best for them.

"There's talk there might be another tour," he said. "Every player has the right to do what they want. If I didn't get what I want, am I prepared to walk away from the sport? The answer is yes.

"I want to be looked after, want to be pampered. Anyone who wants to pamper me and look after me, I'm your man.”

After his win over Murphy, 43-year-old Maguire also said he would consider any offers, although he had not received any yet.

"I’m only hearing it from other players and I think it's good if someone else is interested," said the Scot.

"Some of the numbers that are getting thrown around, it's interesting. My ears are always open, I'm always listening, always looking. I've not been approached but my door is always open."

Only the top 16 players qualify automatically for certain WST events and two-time World Championship semi-finalist Maguire, ranked 28th, has not hidden his dislike of qualifying events - which are often untelevised with small crowds.

"If there’s another opportunity that does not mean Barnsley or Leicester I would seriously think about it. If there was a few years' guarantee, why not?" he said.

"Something is happening in the background. I'm not on social media so don't really hear things, unless people say 'Stevie, this is what's happening'. I'm looking and listening. My phone is always on."