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Five players who are set to compete at a rebel event in Macau have been threatened with expulsion from the World Snooker Tour (WST) by honorary president Barry Hearn. Luca Brecel, Mark Selby, John Higgins, Ali Carter and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh have been lined up to play an upcoming exhibition in Macau but are contractually bound not to take part in any unsanctioned events.
The five players involved have already withdrawn from the Northern Ireland Open, which is set to take place later this month, but risk being expelled from the WST if they follow through with their plans to play in Macau. Hearn has since issued a firm warning that any ‘selfish’ dissenters could be thrown out as part of a scathing attack on the five rebels.
“Every player has the choice whether to play in an event or not, there is no bullying whatsoever, but these players are under contract,” he told The Mirror. “You don’t have to enter or play the Northern Ireland Open but you are not allowed to play in something else. That is 100 per cent legally enforceable.
“So all of these players going to Macau are just selling their souls and themselves down the river for an extra few quid. I am disappointed in how selfish they have been, and how small-minded. I expect these five will be referred for disciplinary action by WST. And then we’ll see whether they get fined, banned or thrown out.”
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The WST released a statement on Tuesday to confirm that any players who take part in the Macau exhibition will be referred to a disciplinary committee for breach of contract. The organisation went on to reiterate that players are contractually obliged to avoid doing ‘anything that is detrimental to the WST’.
The statement read: “If these players decide to participate in the exhibition in Macau, the WST will have no alternative but to refer them to the WPBSA Disciplinary Committee for breach of their player contract, and this has been clearly communicated to the players.
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“Taking necessary action in these circumstances protects WST events on behalf of the fans who attend and follow our events through television and social media, our sponsors/commercial partners, broadcasters/streaming partners and most importantly, the other 125 members of the WST.
“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.”
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