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World Snooker Tour condemns contracted players that opted to play non-sanctioned event in Macau

The World Snooker Tour has released a statement outlining their disappointment in several players that have chosen to attend a non-sanctioned event in Macau instead of an official WST tournament.

According to the WST, while players are not required to play in every WST event in a season they are contractually obligated to do so over other non-sanctioned tournaments they may want to play.

"The WST is disappointed to hear that a number of players under contract with the WST have elected not to play in a WST event, preferring instead to play in a non-sanctioned event in Macau thereby being in breach of the terms of their player contract," read the statement from the organisation.

"Following recent speculation and the publication of an article containing many inaccuracies, the WST would like to make its position clear regarding non-sanctioned exhibition events.

"It is important to stress that WST players do not have to enter all WST events, they have the freedom to choose, which has always been the case.

"This level of freedom is unlike any other sport where players have voluntarily opted to enter contracts with their club/organisation.

"However, with this level of freedom we do make clear in our player contracts that a player must not do anything that is detrimental to the WST or a WST event.

"It is without doubt that playing in a non-sanctioned event instead of playing in a WST event is detrimental to that WST event."

Given the exhibition event in Macau directly clashes with the final stages of the Northern Ireland Open, a player’s participation in it would constitute a breach of their player contract given that to compete in Macau, the player would not be available to compete in the Northern Ireland Open thereby devaluing the Northern Ireland Open.

"Unfortunately, despite engaging in email correspondence and phone calls intended to best explain our position and enable the players to make informed decisions, five players (four of whom are ranked within the top 16) have decided not to compete in the Northern Ireland Open and have withdrawn their entry in order to play in Macau," the statement continued.

These players are Mark Selby, John Higgins, Luca Brecel, Thepchaiya Un-Nooh and Ali Carter, none of whom will appear in Belfast.

As a result, if these players decide to participate in the exhibition in Macau, the WST say they have no option but to refer them to the WPBSA Disciplinary Committee for breach of their player contract, which it says has been clearly communicated to the players.

"WST has always been and will continue to be supportive of a player’s earning opportunities outside of the WST provided that these do not distract, devalue, or conflict with the WST or a WST event," the WST said.

"Players and promoters have ample opportunity to play in and host non-sanctioned events during gaps in the WST calendar.

"The WST does not therefore support any clash with a WST event and would consider a player’s decision to prioritise a non-sanctioned event clashing with a WST event to be a breach of their player contract, as this would undoubtedly result in sizeable financial implications to the WST including loss of broadcast income, and sponsorship and ticket sales revenue let alone losses due to any reputational damage.

"We reiterate that we are running the sport for all 130 players on the WST, and this will always be our guiding principle."

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