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Overcrowded Barbican could lose UK Championship

The UK Championship could leave its home at York's Barbican Centre following widespread complaints from players at this year's tournament.

The event's expansion to a 128-strong first-round draw has meant four tables running side by side in the main arena and four more in an ancillary sports hall venue.

The latter drew particularly strong criticism from Mark King after his second-round defeat to Fergal O'Brien, while the world No.4 Judd Trump labelled the main arena "a circus".

Practice facilities have also been in short supply and the world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan revealed he changed for his first-round match in a hotel toilet.

With the existing contract with the venue in its final year, there has been speculation it could be moved elsewhere. Jason Ferguson, chairman of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association and a World Snooker board member, said: "It's a strong rumour but we certainly haven't made that decision yet. There's nothing wrong with the venue, we're happy here and happy doing snooker in York. "It's just the logistical issues with the tournament expanding to 128 players.

"In three and a half years we've gone from six events up to 30 so that brings with it logistical complaints, which we've seen this week from some of the players.

"Some of that is genuine, we'd hold our hands up that we've not got everything right.

"It's not impossible that it would stay, but we've not made the decision."

Coventry's Ricoh Arena, which staged the successful Champion of Champions event earlier this month, has been mentioned as a possible alternative.

"Coventry is certainly a possibility," said Ferguson.

"We've just had the Champion of Champions there which was a great tournament and the Ricoh Arena is a great venue.

"It is one that we could work with and it could house the number of tables that we need."

World Snooker is keen not to sever ties with the Yorkshire venue altogether though.

One option could be a simple switch of events, with the UK Championship moving to Coventry and the 16-man Champion of Champions event coming to the smaller Barbican.

"That would certainly be a possibility," said Ferguson. "I wouldn't rule out something like that happening.

"We love the venue, we've been here many years. We've always got good crowds, we love the Barbican Centre and we love the city."

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