Shaun Murphy has criticized the British Championship’s decision to allow amateur players to compete there – after being knocked out by one in the first round.
The 2005 winner of the event was against Si Jiahui, who took advantage of a player withdrawal to secure his place at the York Barbican tournament.
The 19-year-old certainly seized his chance, and despite seeing his 5-1 lead evaporate as Murphy took four consecutive frames, the Chinese teenager kept his cool to secure a memorable victory.
Shaun Murphy said after losing to Si Jiahui the fancier “shouldn’t even be in the building”
Murphy trailed 5-1 before coming back to tie the game at 5-5 – only to lose the last frame
Murphy was less than impressed and angrily told BBC Radio 5 live: “I feel extremely hard because I lost to someone who shouldn’t even be in the building.
“I don’t know why, as a sport, we allow amateurs to participate in professional tournaments. It is our livelihood. It’s our life.
“We are independent workers and not contract athletes. We are not playing for a team.
“The 127 other runners and riders in the tournament are also their livelihood. It is wrong, in my opinion, to run into someone who does not play with the same pressures and the same concerns as me.
“He played like a man who doesn’t care about the world, because he doesn’t care about the world. It is not fair, it is not fair. Amateurs should not be allowed in professional tournaments, late.
‘It’s our livelihood. This is how I put food on the table. This is how I make money. Since turning pro at 15, I have earned the right to qualify as a professional snooker player. He did not do it. It shouldn’t be on the table.
Responding to Murphy’s comments, the World Snooker Tour said, “We respect Shaun’s opinions, but in this case, we totally disagree with his comments.
“A lot of elite amateur players like Si Jiahui train and compete full time in the hopes of securing a guaranteed spot on the tour, so they compete under great pressure without any guarantees.
“Providing opportunities for the best amateur players is important to our growth as a sport and it’s something Shaun benefited from during his early days as a player.”
Si took his place in the draw following a forfeit in the event and won a shock victory
The press release also indicates that Si “deserves its place in our events according to its results” despite its amateur.
Defending champion Neil Robertson, who will face amateur John Astley on Thursday, was one of the players to support Murphy’s point of view, saying: “I fully understand where Shaun is coming from.
“When you play against one of the Chinese boys, some of them are amateurs, but some are as good as anyone in the top 50 in the world.
“Amateurs are under a completely different pressure where there is actually no pressure because they are not competing for ranking points.
“They’re basically on a pro’s free kick, so I totally agree with what Shaun is saying there, because it’s very dangerous.”
Amateur players are needed in the current British Championship draw as there are 128 places up for grabs, but only 122 professionals on the World Snooker Tour in the current 2021-22 season.
Neil Robertson – who won the UK Championship last year – supports Murphy’s point of view
Many fans have taken to social media to accuse Murphy of hypocrisy over his outburst as an article was unearthed from 2019 showing the former world No.3 attempting to qualify for the Open of golf.
In the article, Murphy said of his pre-event amateur status: “Golf is not my livelihood.
“Compared to the other players I will play against, it doesn’t really matter to me if I win or lose.
“I will not be under the pressure they are under. Most of them are trying to win. I’m just trying to have a good day. I could hit him in anything from 68 to 108! “