Williams slams Crucible venue
Mark Williams revealed he 'hates' the Crucible as a snooker venue and hopes the World Championship moves from Sheffield to China.
Last Updated: 20/04/12 2:52pm
Mark Williams embarrassed snooker chiefs on the eve of the Betfred.com World Championship by launching a withering attack on the flagship Crucible venue and saying he hoped the tournament would move to China.
World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn swiftly responded by saying Sheffield, home to the World Championship since 1977, was now 'Snooker City', and he also hailed the atmosphere generated in the Crucible as being "unique and magical".
Hearn said there was no desire on his behalf to take the tournament overseas.
But the biting criticism from Williams was more potent than the reply, which did not even mention the Welshman by name. It is understood Williams could face punishment in the form of a fine, with disciplinary chiefs at the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association looking into his criticism.
Williams, 37, was champion in 2000 and 2003, but he today slated the 980-seat Sheffield theatre in a series of comments on Twitter.
Williams said he was "in trouble" for his remarks, which began with him writing: "WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS just around the corner. shame its played in the crucible, shxt hole, hopefully it will be in china soon."
The world number four then responded to a follower who pointed out the history of the venue, which is contracted, via Sheffield City Council, to stage the tournament through to 2015.
Williams wrote: "sheffield is a nice place, the crucible is a shxt hole. #hateit"
Knowing his comments could spark disciplinary procedures, he added wryly: "its only my opinion about the crucible WSA [World Snooker] so dont send me any letters or fines. #lotsoflovewillo."
Minutes later, he wrote: "wow im in trouble for my last tweet about the crucible."
He added: "world snooker been on the phone. not sure if its cause i nearly swore, or said i hate playing at the crucible, or want the world champs to go to china."
And then: "i opologise for using the word sxxt hole that was just tongue and cheek, i know thats the home of snooker and where every kid wants to play."
Hearn was not immediately aware of Williams' outburst but was prompted to respond, and he scotched the prospect of the tournament leaving Sheffield.
He said in a statement: "It's an outstanding venue and the refurbishment which recently took place has greatly improved the facilities.
"There's is so much history associated with the Crucible, it is synonymous with snooker and the World Championship. There's something unique and magical about the atmosphere in the arena which couldn't be replicated anywhere else. The vast majority of people involved in snooker would say the same.
"Anyone who was in the arena for the final last year when the players [John Higgins and Judd Trump] were introduced will tell you that it was one of the best atmospheres ever witnessed at a sporting event.
"We look forward to a wonderful Betfred.com World Championship starting tomorrow and to great years ahead in Sheffield, the Snooker City."
China is hosting a growing number of ranking events and has experienced a major boom in snooker interest, with Ding Junhui heading a contingent from the country in the World Championship this year, with last year's semi-finalist joined by Cao Yupeng, Liang Wenbo and Liu Chuang in the draw.
Williams, who has been punished by the snooker authorities for a previous Twitter comment, is due to play Liu in the first round in Sheffield, in a match beginning on Wednesday.