World Snooker owner Barry Hearn is ready to fund legal action on behalf of the 400 fans who were affected by Just Stop Oil protester Edred Whittingham on Monday night.
The 25-year-old student forced the first session of the match between Rob Milkins and Joe Perry to be abandoned after he stormed the playing area and stood up on the table before throwing orange paint all over the green.
Hearn was furious to see paying spectators so inconvenienced and is ready to help underwrite individual civil actions against Whittingham and has warned protesters that he will support similar actions if the focus is on other events of his.
The 920-capacity Crucible Theater was sold out when the protest took place, forcing the postponement of the match between Milkins and Perry until the following day. Whittingham and Margaret Reid, 52, who was crouched off the snooker table next to him, were arrested before any damage could be done and have been bailed until June on suspicion of criminal damage, and Hearn is prepared to fund legal action for the It was 460 followers. sitting on that half of the field.
“That geezer that jumped on the table, he pissed me off,” Hearn told The Sportsman. “I am also sorry for the project he says he represents. It did more harm than good. But the most important thing to me is that all those people bought a ticket and their evening was ruined. So I’m going to write to the losers and offer to support them, on a no-win, no-fee basis.
“And I’m going to recommend that they all join me in taking civil action against that young man for the cost of their ticket, their travel, their food. I don’t think people should take the macc, thinking that the poor old punter can be dealt with just because he doesn’t care. I want to send out a message to anyone else who wants to try it – we’ll do you as well.”
Hearn, who is still president of Matchroom Sport and has been involved in professional snooker since the late 1970s, plans to write personally to the 460 viewers who have been directly affected. “It’s going to be a small claims court and there’s going to be a lot of people going,” he said. “That night when he decided to invade our property, he effectively stole money from those people. Whether it’s for a good reason or a bad reason has nothing to do with it. I sell a million tickets a year across all my sporting events. I can’t stop what’s going on in this world, but what I can say is: ‘If you mess up my events, this is what you can expect . I’m not rolling over’.
“I want people to know that someone is watching their back. And if you’ve paid money to be entertained and someone has stopped that, I want you to get your money back.”
Hearn-based Matchroom Sport promotes boxing, table tennis, darts, pool, basketball, fishing, gymnastics, netball, ten-pin bowling and poker.