World Snooker Championship: Mark Allen on modernising the game, wildcards and 'zero form' before Crucible opener

Allen agrees with Judd Trump that more needs to be done to modernise snooker
Allen agrees with Judd Trump that more needs to be done to modernise snooker
Betfred World Snooker Championship
Venue: Crucible Theatre, Sheffield Dates: 17 April-3 May
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Four and Red Button, with uninterrupted coverage on BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app.

Northern Ireland's Mark Allen has joined world number one Judd Trump by calling on the World Snooker Tour to look at ways of modernising the game.

Trump recently saidexternal-link snooker was "stuck in a rut" and that "not enough is being done on the whole image" of the sport.

Allen, who begins his World Championship against Lyu Haotian on Tuesday, agrees that more needs to be done to move snooker forward.

"In a lot of ways, they're so stuck in the past," said Allen, 35.

"They talk about the past people in the game and there's not as much talk about the current crop."

The world number 13 added: "Talk about them, talk about the ones that are carrying the sport right now and give them a platform to build their own profiles and bringing new people into the game wanting to be the next Judd Trump, Neil Robertson or Mark Selby.

"There's no real talk of that. I think that's to the detriment of the top players that are currently there and that's definitely something World Snooker can look into more. Sooner or later you have to move forward.

"How many times in the next two weeks will we hear about the '85 final? The black ball final. How many times will we hear about Bill Werbeniuk or Cliff Thorburn and people like that. They've done great for the game, but let's move on."

Allen also expanded on his recent comments regarding wildcards, after voicing his disapproval of invitational tour cards on Twitter earlier this month.

In his post, the 2018 Masters champion said "everyone should earn their spots" after six-time World Championship finalist Jimmy White was awarded a new two-year tour card.

Allen begins his World Championship bid against China's Lyu Haotian on Tuesday
Allen begins his World Championship bid against China's Lyu Haotian on Tuesday

While Allen insists it was not a "dig" at White, he has doubled down on his criticism of wildcards.

"I can understand the reasons for it, trying to move the game forward, but I just don't agree with them at all," he said.

"I don't want to start getting too personal now, but what does Jimmy bring to an event now? Take Gibraltar out and he hasn't won many matches in the six years he's been on the tour as a wildcard.

"I just don't see the benefits, maybe I'm very short-sighted on that, and it's not a personal dig on Jimmy, but it is what it is. You ask me a question about wildcards, I'm definitely not for them at all.

"If it came to my turn in 10 or 15 years' time, would I take it? Absolutely, to try and prolong my career, but I don't agree with it at all."

Allen aiming to bounce back after recent struggles

Allen, who has been knocked out in the first round of the last two World Championships, faces China's Haotian for a place in the last 16 on Tuesday.

The Northern Irishman admits that he comes into his Crucible opener with "zero form" but hopes to produce his best snooker following a series of practice sessions with the likes of Stephen Maguire, John Higgins, Anthony McGill and Shaun Murphy over the last month.

"I've been struggling a bit mentally," admitted Allen, who believes Trump is the "clear favourite" to win this year's championship.

"The Champion of Champions [victory in November] came out of the blue for me. Started the season pretty well form-wise but didn't get any results.

"Since the Champion of Champions, it's been back to where I was before, not getting the results, not playing my best stuff so there has just been lots of hard practice on the practice table for the last month.

"I've just been putting a lot of work in on the practice table, trying to do the right things so let's just see what happens.

"I've always got that hope because I know that when I'm at my best I'm one of the best players in the world, it's just about bringing that out at the right time."

Top Stories

Also in NI Sport