Shaun Murphy has lashed out at Ronnie O’Sullivan's 'irritating' attitude, accusing the seven-time world champion of failing to give back to the sport that has made him a multi-millionaire.
Murphy – world champion in 2005 and now mixing playing with working as a pundit for the BBC – couldn’t hide his frustration at O’Sullivan’s post-match comments after his 6-2 win over Matthew Stevens in round one of the ongoing UK Championship in York.
O’Sullivan said ‘I feel flat’ and ‘I don’t really want to play snooker at the moment’, comments that clearly rankled with Murphy who was sat alongside Ken Doherty in the BBC studio.
Doherty had up until that point taken to the lead role along with presenter Hazel Irvine in trying to elicit a more enthusiastic response from the seven-time UK Championship winner, but Murphy could not hide his frustration any longer.
It was at this point that Murphy interjected to O’Sullivan: "If you don't like it as much as you say you don't, why do you keep coming?"
"I think I’d get bored" was O'Sullivan's response.
Murphy didn't stop there, doubling down on his position in his post-match press conference after his own win over David Gilbert on Tuesday and arguing the likes of O'Sullivan and others should be doing more to promote the sport, instead of dragging it down.
He added: "It's extremely irritating. Ronnie, in particular, has one of the biggest platforms in the world. I just wish he would use it to help make the game better.
"It does sometimes feel that most of the tour are pulling in a similar direction and others – and he’s not on his own – are just out for themselves.
"The apathy on tour is disgusting – the lack of desire to actually want to get involved and make positive change for this game."
Murphy also pointed out that while O'Sullivan may be in the enviable position of not needing to worry about results and prize money, there are many more to whom success on the table means everything.
"I don’t have the CV of O’Sullivan, I don’t have what I assume must be an incredible amount of wealth. He comes from an incredibly wealthy background and grew up in incredible wealth.
"Most of the tour don’t come from that world.
"It’s okay for him and people like him, that have cabinet after cabinet of trophies, to say how little the game means to them, but for the rest of us it means an awful lot.
"But I'm only 40 and remember the village I grew up in, and know the life I would have had but for this game that saved me from a life of complete anonymity. I will never ever forget that.
"Most of us come from a very working-class background, that side of the street. To not get involved properly and try and make the game better is pretty poor."
When asked about Murphy’s comments following his 6-0 whitewash of Zhou Yuelong on Wednesday, O’Sullivan said: "See that water just rolling off my back? I won’t be replying.
"I don’t read newspapers, I’m not interested in what anybody’s got to say about me. Absolutely vacated a long time ago.
When pressed on Murphy’s comments regarding not putting enough back into the game, O’Sullivan laughed and replied: "I don’t think nothing, I’m just doing my own business.
“I have no opinion. I’m really happy, I enjoy what I do. I don’t know what answer to give you. I’m sorry – I’m lost for words.
"If people want to choose to come and watch me play then great, if they don’t want to choose to come and watch me play then that’s also great.
"Better that they come and watch you I suppose, than not coming to watch you."