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John Higgins
"I have been given assurances and they have not kept them."
 real 14k

BBC Five Live's Clive Everton
"The WPBSA have denied awareness of any promises"
 real 14k

Monday, 16 October, 2000, 19:47 GMT 20:47 UK
Higgins to withdraw from Grand Prix
Higgins is angered at the WPSBA's stance on the matter
Higgins is angered at the WPSBA's stance on the matter
John Higgins has announced his intention to withdraw from the British Grand Prix at Telford if he should reach the quarter-final stage.

Higgins is due to be best man at his brother's wedding this Friday - the same day as the quarter-finals.

The situation has angered Higgins as he insists he was given assurances by the game's ruling body that the scheduling of the tournament would allow him to fulfil both his professional and domestic commitments.

But that situation has not prevailed, with the snooker body adamant that Higgins received no such assurances.

It was a tough decision but I'm certainly not going to miss my brother's wedding for anything.
  John Higgins
The Scot fired in a hat-trick of century breaks - 121, 102 and 124 during his impressive 5-0 second round whitewash of Paul Sweeny at the 440,000 world ranking event on Monday.

But afterwards he revealed that even if he wins his last 16 match against Terry Murphy on Thursday, he will take no further part in the tournament.

Higgins, closest to Mark Williams at the top of the world rankings, was due to play his quarter-final on Friday evening at 1845BST, less than five hours after his elder brother Jason marries fiancee Linda Miller in Lanarkshire.

"It was a tough decision but I'm certainly not going to miss my brother's wedding for anything. He's asked me to be the best man and of course I'm honoured," said the 1998 world champion.

"I'm gutted to be doing this but I gave the association eight months' notice of my brother's impending wedding and I was assured that there wouldn't be a problem. You shouldn't give promises and break them."

Two tables

One of the problems facing Higgins is that the official in question left his job five months ago.

The former world number one says the ruling body, the WPBSA, has subsequently told him nothing could be done to reschedule the match.

In previous years, the Grand Prix quarter-finals were traditionally played over two days and Higgins says he was told he could play his match on the Thursday.

This time, though, there are two tables in operation and all four quarter-finals will be contested on Friday.

"There was talk of getting a helicopter down here after the ceremony but there's no chance of that," added Higgins.

"This is an experience I don't want to ever repeat. It's heart-breaking coming down to a tournament knowing full well you've got no chance of winning the title.

Higgins is currently world number two
Higgins is currently world number two
"Mind you, I'll be trying hell for leather against Terry because I want to get as many ranking points as possible and stay world number two. After that, though, I'm going home whatever happens."

The fact that Higgins potted superbly against Sweeny, and out-scored the Londoner 521-48, will make his withdrawal from the event, which carries a first prize of 62,000, even harder to swallow.

"I've been playing great in practice but that doesn't matter. Being at your brother's wedding is a once in a lifetime thing and I'm not going to miss it."

A WPBSA spokesman said: "As far as we are aware, no assurances were given to John Higgins about the dates of the Grand Prix.

"We have tried to accommodate John as far as possible by moving his quarter-final, should he reach that stage, from the afternoon to the evening session on Friday.

"We understand his reasons for pulling out of the Grand Prix, which are due to personal commitments. We need to talk to all parties concerned before making any further comment."

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