Ronnie O’Sullivan believes that purely on capacity grounds it may be inevitable that the Betfred World Championship moves away from the Crucible at some point.

The Rocket has of course won the world title five times in the famous arena, where the tournament has been staged since 1977.

The Crucible is set to celebrate its 40th anniversary next year, with many additional celebrations planned to make it one of the best ever.

However the 980 capacity does set some challenges for organisers and fans alike, with demand far exceeding supply for many matches, notably the latter stages.

The current deals for the BBC and with Sheffield run out next year, although negotiations are close to complete for a two-year extension with the broadcaster, and well under way with the venue and city.

The spectre of China has often been cast over the future of the event, where the money and arenas could well be bigger.

But any move away from the Crucible would provoke anger from players, officials and fans alike, given the history and tradition in what has come to be seen as the sport’s spiritual home.

O’Sullivan said: “I think there will inevitably be a move away from the Crucible at some point.

“With the 128 draw being used at many events there will come a point where they want all of those at one venue like Wimbledon, and that won’t be this one.

“Maybe they could do that and still keep another tournament at the Crucible, I don’t know how they would work it.

“It is a great playing venue, as we know not the best venue for getting in and out and capacity and other things.

“As the game grows and prize money grows I’m sure they might want to expand to somewhere where they can sell 4,000 or 5,000 tickets – which we could.

“Just look at the tickets they are shifting in darts, it is phenomenal.

“I am absolutely certain snooker could sell 4,000 tickets for the final and many other big matches in the right venue in the right place, maybe even every day.

“I have been to Romania recently, and they would pack it out. Germany as well, and Bulgaria. You never know what is in the future.”


Photograph courtesy of Monique Limbos