Ronnie O’Sullivan has moved to clarify his comments about the atmosphere at the Northern Ireland Open.
The six-time world champion admitted he was “very bored” during his win over Andy Hicks on Monday, adding it was “very flat” in the Waterfront Hall.
However, the 45-year-old insists his remarks were aimed at the auditorium setup and was not a jab at spectators.
Northern Ireland Open
Do you agree with Ronnie O’Sullivan – is this the greatest snooker clearance ever?
“Obviously when I came here last time I said the atmosphere was flat,” he told Eurosport after completing a 4-1 win over Alfie Burden.
It's never got anything to do with the crowd, the Belfast crowd and every crowd all over the world are so enthusiastic when anyone plays.
"It's just that the setup out there means you can't get a good atmosphere because there's no one sitting down the sides, so you feel like you're playing to an empty auditorium.
“So when I said it was a flat atmosphere it's because you feel like you're actually not playing to anyone, you can't see a crowd.
“The way it was put across it looked like I was saying the fans are not... it's not up to the fans, it's the auditorium [which] wasn't set up right and that's no fault of the fans or anybody.
It's because they've got three tables and you're basically playing to a scoreboard!
“When you've got fans down the side they gee you up, keep you going and it does create a different atmosphere so I'd just like to put that straight because obviously every snooker fan is like family to me so I'd never criticise any snooker fan.”

‘Feelings are fickle!’ – O’Sullivan on the best advice he has ever received

“I don't want any more enemies!” he continued.
I'm more of a people person. I wouldn't be seen as on the establishment side, I always respect the fans and the crowd.
“When I've had my downs they've always carried me through so I will never ever forget that and I never take that for granted.
“They mean so much to me. So yeah, it was never a slight at the crowd, it was more that I think the venue, the setup, doesn't allow there to be a very good atmosphere.
“It's difficult to play under those circumstances, that's what I was trying to say.”
O’Sullivan will face Yan Bingtao, a 4-0 winner over Oli Lines, in the next round.

O'Sullivan completes comfortable win over Burden

- - -
Stream the Northern Ireland Open live and on demand on discovery+, the Eurosport app and
Northern Ireland Open
'Messi can maybe make the game look that easy' - O'Sullivan wowed by Higgins
Northern Ireland Open
'Messi can maybe make the game look that easy' - O'Sullivan wowed by Higgins