It has all gone a bit snooker loopy away from the deathly silence of the green baize.
Ronnie O’Sullivan careered out of Sheffield on Sunday evening for a few days breathing space from this World Championship leaving behind a Crucible that could soon turn from snooker's eminent venue into a legal minefield.
O’Sullivan, his sport’s biggest draw who commands publicity as freely as he pots balls, decided to use Easter Sunday to get a rise out of Barry Hearn, the World Snooker chairman, by claiming he had been “bullied” over the contents of a disciplinary letter sent by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) via email to him after the Masters in January.
It was Chigwell’s eminent sporting son who set the ball rolling, so to speak, by claiming he had used lawyers to defend his position after the five-times world champion had berated a referee and swore at a photographer after a semi-final match with Marco Fu in London.
O'Sullivan was warned about his conduct, discussing snooker with the media until after his 10-7 win over Gary Wilson in the first round of the World Championship.
“I phoned Barry up four weeks ago and I said, 'Look Barry, I'm done with all you and your board of people'," said O'Sullivan to reporters on Sunday.
And I've got a very good friend of mine who said, 'Just let my lawyers deal with it'. I won't get involved with it because I'm not being bullied, I'm not having people doing that to me ever again.
"I like Barry, but I'm not being intimidated or bullied any more.
"I've given 25 years of service to this game and I think I've given enough. Drop me out, I don't need you, you probably don't need me.
"I've had it for five, six, seven years, and I'm just done with it.
It's not that important. I could go and do Big Brother, I could go and do I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here, I could have a great life doing other stuff.
This is something I do for love, but I'm not going to do it and have people trying to intimidate me and bully me.
It turns out the World Snooker chairman Hearn, who celebrated catching a fish via Twitter on Sunday, is ready to take the bait.
Hearn responded by hinting that he is ready to fight fire with fire after the O’Sullivan outburst.
“WPBSA is the governing body and represents the professional players on the World Snooker Tour," said Hearn in a pointed statement. "The WPBSA is exclusively responsible for all disciplinary matters pertaining to snooker, its players and their responsibilities outlined in the players’ contract. Neither World Snooker nor myself have any involvement whatsoever in disciplinary matters.
"Neither World Snooker nor myself have received any communication from Ronnie O’Sullivan’s lawyers in regard to his responsibilities or concerns in relation to his signed players’ contract.
Read the full article on eurosport.co.uk: Crucible collision: Hearn hints at legal action after O'Sullivan's ‘bullied’ claims