Shaun Murphy has slammed the UK 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 pitted against Si Jiahui, who benefited from a player withdrawing to secure his place at the tournament at York Barbican.
The 19-year-old certainly took his chance, and despite seeing his 5-1 lead evaporate as Murphy took four straight frames, the Chinese teenager held his nerve to secure a memorable victory.
Shaun Murphy said after losing to Si Jiahui that the amateur ‘shouldn’t even be in the building’
Murphy trailed 5-1 before coming to back to level the match at 5-5 – only to lose the final frame
Murphy was less than impressed and angrily told BBC Radio 5 live: ‘I feel extremely hard done by that I have lost to someone who shouldn’t even be in the building.
‘I don’t know why we as a sport allow amateurs to compete in professional tournaments. This is our livelihood. This is our living.
‘We are self-employed individuals and not contracted sportsmen. We don’t play for a team.
‘The other 127 runners and riders in the tournament, it is their livelihood too. It is wrong, in my opinion, to walk into somebody who is not playing with the same pressures and concerns I am.
‘He played like a man who does not have a care in the world, because he does not have a care in the world. It is not fair, it is not right. Amateurs should not be allowed in professional tournaments, the end.
‘This is our livelihood. This is how I put food on the table. This is how I earn money. Since turning professional at 15, I have earned the right to call myself a professional snooker player. He hasn’t done that. He shouldn’t be on the table.’
In response to Murphy’s comments, the World Snooker Tour said: ‘We respect Shaun’s opinions but in this case we strongly disagree with his comments.
‘Many elite amateur players like Si Jiahui train and compete full-time in the hope of earning a guaranteed tour place, therefore they are competing under significant pressure with no guarantees.
‘Providing opportunities for the best amateur players is important for our growth as a sport and that is something that Shaun benefited from during his early days as a player.’
Si took his place in the draw following a withdrawal in the event and claimed a shock victory
The statement also said that Si ‘deserves his place in our events based on his results’ despite his amateur.
Defending champion Neil Robertson, who faces amateur John Astley on Thursday, was one player to come out in support of Murphy’s point of view, saying: ‘I totally get where Shaun’s coming from.
‘When you’re playing one of the Chinese boys, some of them are amateurs, but some are as good as anybody in the top 50 in the world.
‘Amateurs are under a completely different pressure where there’s actually no pressure, because they’re not competing for ranking points.
‘They’re basically on a free hit at a pro, so I completely agree with what Shaun’s saying there, because it is very dangerous.’
Amateur players are needed in the current UK Championship draw as there are 128 spots up for grabs, but only 122 professionals on the World Snooker Tour during the current 2021-22 season.
Neil Robertson – who won the UK Championship last year – supports Murphy’s point of view
Many fans took to social media to accuse Murphy of hypocrisy over his outburst as an article was dug up from 2019 showing the former World No 3 attempting to qualify for The Open golf.
In the article, Murphy said of his amateur status in the lead-up to the event: ‘Golf isn’t my livelihood.
‘Relative to the other players I will be playing against, it doesn’t really matter to me if I win or lose.
‘I won’t be under the pressure they are under. Most of them are trying to win. I am just trying to have a good day out. I could knock it round in anything from 68 to 108!’