Seven-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan believes snooker bosses need to “change the image of the sport in many ways” and has drawn comparisons with what has been achieved in Formula One.
O’Sullivan won his seventh world title earlier this month after beating Judd Trump 18-13 in the final of the World Snooker Championship, with a peak audience of 4.5m watching the match on BBC Two.
That figure was the highest in eight years and O’Sullivan hopes the increased interest in the sport will help them attract new “blue-chip” sponsors. Betting company Betfred were the title sponsor of this year’s World Championship, but are set to be replaced by online car retailer Cazoo next year.
And O’Sullivan has suggested the fact that snooker’s advertising is “dominated by betting companies” may mean other companies do not “want to be associated with that”. However, he went on to point out that Formula One are also sponsored by betting companies and luxury watch brand Rolex.
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O’Sullivan’s career-defining victory against Trump was broadcast to milions across the BBC and Eurosport and he has quickly been christened the undisputed king of his sport. He has also already been installed as favourite to win this year’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
Even O’Sullivan himself was left surprised by just how much his victory had captured the imagination, as almost six million viewers tuned in. “Oh really? Wow,” he said.
“Amazing. It is brilliant getting more viewers than Coronation Street. It is a long time playing at the World Championship, a lot of stress and I’m just recovering. It is hard work, but it was job done, so worth it.”