LONDON • Five-time world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan has compared snooker to a "car boot sale" when put alongside other sports, which he said felt more like shopping at luxury department stores.
The Englishman cruised into the UK Championship fourth round with a 6-1 win over Michael Georgiou in York on Monday, before giving a frank opinion of the image snooker possesses after no player from the sport featured among the BBC Sports Personality of the Year nominees.
"Snooker has become a nothing-type sport, but it's still great," O'Sullivan, a five-time UK Championship winner, told the British media. "They're just putting so much of it out there, it's just cheap TV and a filler for other programmes - snooker has lost respect among other sports.
"You watch Formula One and you see beautiful-looking people. You look at snooker and you think, 'God'.
"It costs £5 (about S$9) to get in at some of the qualifying events and see a top-class player - it's like a car boot sale whereas their sports are like shopping at Harrods."
He also felt that snooker needed to embrace a more corporate image, not only to regain its status as a "core" sport but also increase the finances involved in the game.
"It's all about media, money and business, and snooker is nothing compared to Formula One, tennis and the Olympics. They've got corporate people involved who have a massive say in who is big and who is not big," said O'Sullivan, who is known as "The Rocket" because of his rapid playing style.
"Snooker is unable to attract those kind of sponsors or compete in that league."
The mercurial 40-year-old, whose comments are never dull but sometimes spark disciplinary action, believes the sport needs a shake-up and the solution could be resolved by an infusion of Chinese cash.
"Maybe if it went to China and you found some billionaires out there who would put the sport on and have million-pound prize money, you could start looking at snooker as a core sport again," he said.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE