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O’Sullivan casts doubt over UK appearances, eyes big-money offers

Ronnie O’Sullivan has warned he could quit playing tournaments in Britain after his hopes of a record-breaking eighth world snooker title were shattered by Stuart Bingham.

World number one O’Sullivan was beaten 13-10 in the quarter-finals of the World Championship at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre on Wednesday.

The 48-year-old Englishman said he would pick and choose his future tour events and increasingly prioritise big-money offers from Saudi Arabia and the Far East.

O’Sullivan recently signed a deal with the Saudis which commits the Englishman to playing in all World Snooker Tour events in the Gulf nation.

With other tournaments scheduled in China before the end of the year, O’Sullivan expects to pick up enough prizes and ranking points to enable him to keep his appearances in the UK to a minimum.

“I’m contracted to do certain events in China, and I’m contracted to go to Saudi, so obviously they’ve got first dibs then it’s about spending time at home with the family,” he said.

“It’s first come, first served. I’m already signed up for eight or nine tournaments, so if I do really badly in them I might have to dip my toe in and play a few tournaments over here, but probably not.

“I don’t just turn up willy-nilly to events, there’s a tax to be paid. If people are prepared to pay it, I’ll get my cue out of my case. If they’re not, I’m content to never ever play again, and move on and do other stuff.”

O’Sullivan said he only played in the World Championship at the behest of a new sponsor, which raises questions over his desire to go one better than Stephen Hendry in terms of modern-era Crucible titles.

“You only get one life and I want to fulfil everything to the maximum, but I’m also aware of my value and my time, and what I bring to the sport,” he said.

“As long as those needs are met, I’ll keep playing. If they’re not, I’ll be hanging up the waistcoat and hanging up the cue.”

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