7 Nov 2012

Ronnie O'Sullivan to take time off

11:34 am on 7 November 2012

The world snooker champion Ronnie O'Sullivan is set to give up his title without a defence having announced he won't be playing any World Tour events for the rest of the 2012/13 season.

The World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn says 36-year-old O'Sullivan has some personal issues he needs to resolve.

O'Sullivan, who's had a turbulent career despite winning his fourth world title this year, says he has no problems while he's playing tournaments, but he's a nightmare to be around when he goes home.

The Englishman has long had a difficult relationship with the sport's governing body and said in May that players were expected to take part in too many tournaments.

O'Sullivan, whose turbulent career has been punctuated by repeated threats he might quit snooker for good, said in May that he intended to take a six-month break from the sport.

Although the 36-year-old returned to play in a low-profile Players Tour Championship event in September, he withdrew from last week's International Championship in Chengdu, China, citing illness.

The gifted O'Sullivan remains modern snooker's biggest crowd-pleaser and is one of the few present-day leading cuemen to have a wider following among the general British sporting public in an era which, while admired for overall levels of technical excellence, is criticised for lacking "characters".