Snooker star banned for playing drunk and making inappropriate comments to female staff

English player Jamie O’Neill has paid a heavy penalty at the hands of the World Snooker Tour for turning up at a qualifying match in Leicester under the influence of alcohol

Jamie O'Neill has been hit by a ban and fines
Jamie O’Neill has been hit by a ban and fines

Jamie O’Neill won’t be seen on the World Snooker Tour [WST] in the next two months following his chaotic behaviour at an event in Leicester.

O’Neill, 35, has been no stranger to previous controversy in the sport, receiving a two-event suspension last year for inappropriate behaviour towards hotel and Tour staff, and breaching hotel rules. The World No 112, who has a career-high ranking of 79, was also given suspended fines over comments made on social media.

But his latest misdemeanour has cost him dear, with WST bosses seemingly running out of patience with the English player. The authority have acted after a complaint was made over O’Neill’s behaviour at the Northern Ireland Qualifying Event in Leicester last August.

O’Neill, who has never qualified for a World Championship, was alleged to have turned up for a match drunk. He was also said to have made inappropriate comments and gestures to female staff before playing his match whilst still under the influence.

The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association have now released a statement confirming that O’Neill would be punished. “After a complaint made to the WPBSA by WST, Jamie O’Neill was charged with breaches of the WPBSA Members Rules and his Players Contract with WSL as a result of incidents at the Northern Ireland Qualifying Event in Leicester on Monday 23rd August 2021,” they said.

“The allegation was that Mr O’Neill was drunk on the morning of his match and that he made inappropriate comments and gestures toward two female members of staff. He then played his qualifying match whilst under the influence of alcohol.

O’Neill has a career high ranking of 79



“The case was heard by the independent WPBSA Disciplinary Committee where after a contested hearing Mr O’Neill was found to be in breach of the WPBSA Rules and his Players Contract.” And the authority said that O’Neill’s previous record had been taken into account.

“In making their decision on sanction, the Committee took into account that the finding of the Disciplinary Committee puts Mr O’Neill in breach of a suspended penalty imposed by the Disciplinary Committee on 27th May 2021,” they added. “In addition, Mr O’Neill has breached two previous suspended penalties imposed under the WPBSA Disciplinary process.

“Mr O’Neill was suspended from playing or being involved in WST events, effective immediately until 23.59 on 31 July 2022; and to pay a fine of £1,500 and to pay £3,200 towards the costs of the hearings. Mr O’Neill will be suspended for the Championship League and the European Masters.”

As well as his combined £4,700 costs, O’Neill will now miss out on appearance fees until the end of August, meaning a sizeable dent in his annual earnings. It follows the tiler’s best season to date in 2021, when he reached the last 16 of the Scottish Open.

Before turning professional, he captured the 2003 European Under-19 Championship and the 2006 English Open Championship. He also won an International Open Event in 2007.

His chances of retaining his tour place for next season though, now appear in jeopardy. The Wellingborough man returned to the main tour in 2019 after coming through qualifying school.

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