Barry Hearn hits back at 'silly' Mark Allen's UK Championship criticism

By Mike HensonBBC Sport

World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn has dismissed Mark Allen's criticism of him as that of "a silly little boy".

Allen, 25, claimed Hearn had shown a disregard for the players by shortening matches in early rounds of the UK Championship to best-of-11 frames.

Hearn refused to rule out legal action, but told BBC Sport that he was "far too busy to worry about silly little boys making silly little comments".

Allen said the possibility of legal action was "a little bit childish".

The world number 12 is due to face a disciplinary charge for his outburst - although the World Professional Billiard & Snooker Association will investigate his use of a swear word rather than his criticism of Hearn.

Hearn disputed the Northern Irishman's claims that he had damaged the UK Championship by changing its format.

He said: "It is a shame [the comments] have overshadowed a first-class tournament. I've been watching it and enjoying it and the crowds are up.

"People say silly things, we all say silly things, but I am happy to let the disciplinary committee deal with it."

Following his win against Ali Carter in the UK Championship on Wednesday, Allen turned up for his post-match press conference with his mouth covered by a piece of tape and initially sat silent for around 15 seconds.

After eventually removing the tape, the Ulsterman appeared in defiant mood.

Referring to his previous comments about Hearn, he said: "I don't think I said too much out of line. Obviously I swore, which is bang out of order and I apologise again for that, but I still stand by the rest of the things I said."

Earlier Allen claimed the 63-year-old had failed to fulfill a promise to keep the UK Championship and World Championship unchanged.

"Last time I checked, all the players had freedom of speech and that was my opinion at the end of the day," he told BBC Radio 5 live.

"If he wants to get offended with it that is his problem. If he wants to take legal action that is no problem, I will fight it all the way.

"It is a little bit childish. I thought Barry was a bit longer in the tooth than that for that sort of carry on."

Allen added that he would be prepared to discuss his differences with Hearn to avoid the dispute heading to the courts.

He has already clashed with fellow professional Stuart Bingham this season, accusing him of having "no bottle and no balls" at the Australian Goldfields Open in July.

Bingham, who claimed a dramatic 9-8 win over world number one Mark Williams in the final of the event, responded by describing his rival as "an idiot".

Allen revealed in March that he was receiving treatment for depression that had been made worse by the travel demanded by the sport.

"Things are a lot better now. I'm enjoying playing and my form is slowly but surely coming back,"

Allen faces Marco Fu in the quarter-finals of the UK Championship at 1900 GMT on Thursday.

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