‘You feed off fans sometimes – it is nice to play in front of a crowd. I’m devastated. York is my favourite city in the whole world’ – Ronnie O’Sullivan
‘Following extensive consultation with the UK Government and relevant public health bodies, decision made to stage all matches in Milton Keynes in the circumstances (COVID-19) we face’ – WST chairman Barry Hearn
The Betway UK Championship is set to join the European Masters, English Open, Championship League and Champion of Champions event in a switch from York to Milton Keynes, due to COVID-19.
The UK Championship- one of snooker’s most prestigious events and part of the Triple Crown Series – has been staged at York Barbican since 2011.
This year all rounds will take place at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes, during November 23 to December 6.
Under UK Government health guidelines, the players are subject to regular Covid-19 testing at events.
World champion Ronnie O’Sullivan said: “It is what it is, but at some point you want the fans to come back – without the fans it is hard.”
O’Sullivan, who won the world title at The Crucible, Sheffield, in August with a limited number of spectators in attendance for the final two days, said: “You feed off them sometimes – it is nice to come out and play in front of a crowd.
“It’s a shame we aren’t going back to York. I’m devastated because that is my favourite city in the whole country, even in the whole world.”
WST chairman Barry Hearn said: “We are disappointed not to be going to York Barbican for the Betway UK Championship this year.
“The people of York can rest assured that we fully intend to be back in York – we have already agreed dates for 2021 and 2022.
“Following extensive consultation with the UK Government and the relevant public health bodies, the decision has been made to stage all matches in Milton Keynes this time.
“In the circumstances (COVID-19) we face today, our crucial objective is to keep our events going, provide competitive action and prize money for our players, and top class sport for the many millions of television viewers around the world who are in need of inspiration.”
The Northern Irish Open, Scottish Open and World Grand Prix is also being moved to Milton Keynes before Christmas.