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Shaun Murphy smells something a bit fishy about the lack of government funding in snooker. In a country where anglers are deemed to be more worthy of investment than men specializing in angles, he paints a bleak future for British hopefuls in bow ties.
Murphy offered a withering critique on the health of the game in the UK before this tournament, claiming it was due to snobbery that snooker is not offered financial support to encourage kids to play.
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With China heavily investing in snooker - sponsors already offer up over £3m in annual prize money - the traditional home of the green baize in Great Britain and Ireland is in danger of being swept aside by a gathering storm from the Far East.
If you include Marco Fu of Hong Kong, six Chinese players made it to the last 32 at the Crucible this year with China's number Ding Junhui through to the quarter-finals a year after he lost the 2016 final to Mark Selby.
It was a match watched by an estimated 210 million people in China.

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"It has been years of investment on their part, and now they are playing in academies over here," said Murphy, who won the tournament as a 150-1 outsider in 2005 before losing finals in 2009 and 2015.
"There is young English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish kids who don't have those opportunities. We haven't invested like they should have done, and Sport England haven't invested in snooker in the same way other nations have done to bring the sport on. The government haven't backed us like they should have done, and now you see the results.
In some circles, snooker isn't considered to be a sport, which is ludicrous. For obvious reasons, it isn't seen in the same light as a tennis or golf because of the fitness aspect.
"But I challenge anybody to try playing a best-of-35 frame match in the Crucible Theatre to understand how testing it is. Your heart is racing and pounding. It is a different type of sporting test, but when you see things like Sport England funding fishing and orienteering and the like.
I'm not sure what fishing has that we don't. I don't see fishing as a pulse racing sport. Apart from the fish before they get dragged out of the water. I'm not sure what these sports have that we don't.
It is fair to say this World Championship has given us a glimpse of the future: Ding Junhui beat Zhou Yuelong, 19, 10-5 in a Chinese derby as Murphy scrambled past 17-year-old debutant Yan Bingtao 10-8 in the first round.

Shaun Murphy

Image credit: Reuters

Xiao Guodong overcame Ryan Day 10-4 to reach the second round before losing 13-6 to world champion Mark Selby, who faces Fu in the last eight. Liang Wenbo, the English Open winner, lost 13-12 to Ding in the last 16.

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There is a revolution in snooker in China that has already reached these shores with a country of 1.357 billion people going snooker loopy. An estimated 70 million people play some form of cue sports, pool or snooker, in Asia.
Manchester United fan Murphy - defeated 13-7 in the last 16 by Ronnie O'Sullivan - feels the sport in the UK is in 'Fergie time', fighting a losing battle to remain relevant in the face of Chinese investment.
Fergie time was a phrase coined by football fans claiming referees added minutes on top of stoppage time to help Sir Alex Ferguson's United when they were losing. Murphy feels snooker is on to a loser unless it rescued by government help.
"We are well into borrowed time, we are well into Fergie time to borrow a football analogy," said Murphy.
Look at the amateur game in the United Kingdom, we are already well into Fergie time. We are bang in trouble. Unless we address that imbalance today.
"Whenever we do a tournament in China, we always do a cue zone out there. The local schools and local government invest in the sport out there. They love snooker, and can't get enough of it. When we are over there, we do coaching sessions. And now you start to see it come through.
"Yan and Xiao haven't just appeared from nowhere. It hasn't been by mistake that they are over. More are coming in the years ahead."
Desmond Kane at the Crucible Theatre
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