By Nick Harris
28 July 2010
Peter Ebdon, the former world snooker champion, has today taken the unprecedented step of releasing a public statement via the game’s world governing body to say he may not play very well at his next event.
The 2002 world champion, 39, currently No18 in the world, will still compete in the event in question but said in the statement: “I would like to make it known that I consider that I will not be in a position to play to the best of my ability in my Roewe Shanghai Masters qualifying match in Sheffield next week.
“This is down to personal circumstances, including the fact that I am getting re-married in Hungary this weekend. Since playing in a recent tournament in Thailand I have not been able to practise, and by the time the qualifiers come around I will not have played for ten days or more.
“I know just how bad I can be when I don’t feel properly prepared as I am the type of player who needs to practise hard in order to play to a reasonable standard.
“As always, I will be doing my utmost to win what is a very important match for me but in truth, my levels of expectation will not be very high.”
Snooker insiders are already describing Ebdon’s statement as “bizarre” and “extraordinary” because no player in snooker, and perhaps in any sport, has previously been known to issue a statement flagging up the possibility they might under-perform.
The most obvious explanation for Ebdon’s action is that it will pre-explain any “shock” result that might befall him in Sheffield by highlighting his vulnerability beforehand. It will also allow bookmakers to assess his chances more realistically.
Ebdon was the subject of a lengthy investigation by the Gambling Commission over a 5-0 defeat to the Chinese player Liang Wenbo at the Northern Ireland trophy in 2008 which occured in the wake of a series of unusual bets on that match. The Commission eventually dropped its investigation.
Ebdon’s statement also comes as the snooker authorities continue their prosecution process against the world No1 player, John Higgins, over News of the World allegations in May that Higgins agreed to fix frames for cash. This website’s coverage of that case can be seen as published on 3 May here, on 8 May here, on 9 May here, on 18 May here, on 18 June here, and yesterday here.
Sportingintelligence can reveal that Higgins, who was suspended from all snooker on 2 May as a result of the News of the World allegations, made an appeal against that suspension, and the appeal was handled, reluctantly, by one person, WPBSA board member, Brandon Parker, who upheld the suspension.
Parker was reluctant to make a call because he had access to only some of the evidence against Higgins at the time, but he upheld the decision to keep Higgins’ suspension in place because of the severity of the accusations and because of the greater good of snooker he has told this website.
Further developments are expected in the Higgins case imminently, perhaps within hours, relating to the release of evidence to investigators. More later.
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