Mark Allen threatened to withdraw from future ranking events if Covid-19 protocols force players to re-enter bio-secure bubbles, writes Will Jennings.
Antrim’s Allen, the current world No.4, beat Mark King 4-2 in his first round match at the English Open in Milton Keynes on Monday.
The tournament is being held behind closed doors but players are allowed in and out of the venue - unlike previous events at the Marshall Arena such as the Championship League.
Allen accepts the current restrictions but says a return to the circumstances used in June would be enough to trigger his withdrawal from major competitions.
Former Masters champion @pistol147 is into the second round of the https://t.co/0mCRoqdsmX English Open after beating Mark King 4-2.— World Snooker Tour (@WeAreWST) October 12, 2020
Breaks of 69, 60 & 55 tonight #HomeNations #EnglishOpen pic.twitter.com/W15kDP8KdJ
“It’s really hard and if it went back to full bubble I’d really have to consider whether I’d play in the events if I’m honest,” said the 34-year-old.
“I’m one who likes doing their own thing and going out and about, so it would be very, very tough if we had to go back to full bubble.
“But it might go there the way things are going and the numbers getting higher and higher, and unless it was a really big event I don’t think I’d play if it was full bubble.
“I’d definitely consider it, unless it was like the Champion of Champions or the UK Championships this side of Christmas, I’d probably not play if it was full bubble. I think right now the way I’m feeling mentally I don’t think I want to go back to it.
“I want to try and play in everything but if it went back to how it was here for the Championship League, that would be far from ideal.”
Allen delivered a steady performance against King on Monday, striking breaks of 69, 60 and 55 to keep his hopes of a second Home Nations event title alive.
The five-time ranking event winner lifted the Scottish Open trophy in 2018 but has failed to reach the final of the English, Welsh or Northern Irish equivalents.
Allen lamented the absence of a crowd in Milton Keynes and longs for the day in which his potting prowess can receive a cheer once more.
“I don’t like it at all - I want to be playing in front of big crowds and big arenas,” he added.
“It’s far from ideal but we’re going to have to try and suck it up because we’re going to be here for quite a while, I would imagine.
“I think all the top players want to perform out there in front of the big crowds and that’s what we play for. As much as we want to win matches we want to entertain.
“I’m definitely one of the ones who’d prefer a big crowd - I think it suits the lower-ranked players, especially in the early rounds of these tournaments where there’s zero pressure and it’s a level playing field.”