Barry Hearn & Mark Allen hold positive talks over differences

MASTERS SNOOKER

  • Venue: Alexandra Palace, London
  • Date: Sunday 15 Jan to Sunday 22 Jan
  • Kick-off: Matches start at 1330 and 1900

Coverage: Live coverage and highlights on BBC Two and BBC Sport website

Northern Ireland's Mark Allen and snooker boss Barry Hearn on their 'peace talks'

World Snooker supremo Barry Hearn has settled his differences with Mark Allen ahead of the forthcoming Masters.

Allen caused huge controversy last month when he called for Hearn to resign and swore at a press conference.

"We had a good meeting and the chat we had was good at opening his mind as to where he wants to be," Hearn said.

"Does he want to be a superstar in an ever-expanding global sport, or does he want to go back to billiard halls and snooker parlours and eke out a living?"

Last month Hearn termed Allen a "silly little boy" and hinted at legal action following the Northern Irishman's comments at the UK Championship, when he also said "the whole tradition of the game is going to pot".

But Hearn told BBC Sport: "There was never going to be any legal action, I don't sue people, I'm much too busy to spend my time with lawyers.

"What I'm doing may not suit everybody, that's not my concern. My concern is the game in general and where we are going. A game run by committee is generally a game that goes nowhere, someone has to move the game forward."

Asked about the meeting with the world number 10, Hearn added: "I explained my strategy and I think he's a little wiser now.

"Every player must look on decisions that I make as 'how does this affect me personally?' My job is 'how does it affect the game?' It's my way or the highway.

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"Mark's prize money this year is probably double what he's earned in the last couple of years so I must be doing something right. We had a very frank and friendly exchange of views and in the end I think he saw my point of view, but time will tell."

Another player to make headlines off the table recently was former world number one Ronnie O'Sullivan, who again threatened to retire following his defeat in the last 16 at the UK Championship last month.

"I look on Ronnie O'Sullivan as another version of Frank Sinatra," Hearn quipped. "He's always retiring but there's always one more concert!

"I think Ronnie is the type of character that falls in love and out of love with snooker on a daily, if not hourly, basis but he's one of the world's great entertainers, the game needs him and I believe also he needs the game.

"My job is to inspire people like Ronnie O'Sullivan to show them the rewards they can earn but I wouldn't really change him.

"He gives me column inches, he gives me notoriety, he gives me entertainment, but there are an awful lot of other players who are going to be challenging the likes of Ronnie O'Sullivan over the next few years. The game can never be reliant on one person."

As far as the World Championship is concerned I rather like to think we could leave it exactly as it is forever because I think it is an eccentric piece of British sport, but you can never say never

Barry Hearn

The Masters, the tournament only open to the elite top 16 which begins on Sunday, will be staged for the first time at Alexandra Palace in London after being at Wembley since 1979.

"It's an iconic London building," Hearn said of the event's new home. "We've had a good few years at Wembley but I think it was time for a move.

"The World Darts Championship has been staged there for the last few years and has been hugely successful and the early signs are that Alexandra Palace is going to be good for snooker as well.

"We judge ourselves on the number of people that take the trouble to come and watch one of our live events and we have already comfortably gone past last year's numbers and are looking for really big crowds creating great atmosphere."

Hearn has ruled out any changes to the format of the World Championship for the time being, although indicated he would remain open to the possibility.

"I've never said the word never," the chairman said. "In the UK Championship two years ago I didn't envisage any changes at all but I have to listen to my customers, the British public. The players are part of it but not the entire story.

"As far as the World Championship is concerned I rather like to think we could leave it exactly as it is forever because I think it is an eccentric piece of British sport, where you have semi-finals lasting three or four days and go to matches and don't see a result.

"It's all quite alien to the way sport is generally now with the demand for fast track results and quick action but you can never say never, any tweaking would depend on what my customers tell me they want."

Hearn also announced on Monday that snooker's World Open, a ranking tournament, will be staged in the city of Haikou on Hainan Island in South China for the next five years. This season's event will runs from 27 February to 4 March.