Snooker player Jamie O'Neill suspended for playing drunk and abusing members of staff

May 19, 2022
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Phil Haigh ✍️  

Jamie O'Neill
Jamie O’Neill is suspended for the first two tournaments of the season (Picture: WPBSA)

Jamie O’Neill has been suspended from playing on the World Snooker Tour until August after he turned up for a match drunk, made inappropriate comments and gestures to female members of staff and then played his game under the influence of alcohol.

The world number 112 will miss the Championship League and the European Masters at the start of the upcoming season after being hit with the ban and a fine of £1,500, plus £3,200 in costs.

O’Neill had already received a two-event suspension last year for inappropriate behaviour towards hotel and WST staff and breaching hotel rules.

The 35-year-old also received suspended fines over the 2020-21 season for inappropriate comments and live streams posted on social media.

All this was taken into account when the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) chose to suspend him again, and he will not be eligible to play again until the British Open qualifiers in August.

WPBSA statement on Jamie O'Neill

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

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.

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.

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. 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.

Full ruling here.

O’Neill, who also works as a tiler, reached a high point on the world rankings of number 79 last year, thanks in part to his best run in a ranking event to the last 16 of the Scottish Open.

He played 12 matches last season, winning just three, although one of those wins came in the match in question in the Northern Ireland Open, in which he beat Michael Judge 4-2.

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