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Stephen Hendry explains withdrawal from UK Championship as opponent given bye

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Stephen Hendry will not be at the UK Championship despite entering the draw (Picture: Getty Images)

Stephen Hendry has withdrawn from the upcoming UK Championship qualifiers due to a possible clash with his duties as a pundit at the Champion of Champions event.

The seven-time world champion was due to play Andrew Pagett in the first round of qualifying on the morning of Saturday 5 November, with the winner playing Xu Si on Sunday afternoon.

This schedule clashed with when he is due to work for ITV at the Champion of Champions in Bolton, where the Scot is on punditry duty.

As a result, Hendry will not be going to Sheffield and Pagett goes through to the next round of qualifying to play Xu Si.

Hendry tweeted: ‘Just a quick explanation as to why I had to pull out of UK qualifier. They scheduled my matches for this weekend when I’m working at the COC for ITV.’

While the withdrawal is a disappointment for Hendry fans, the bye for Pagett is a kick in the teeth for amateur players who would be keen to take Hendry’s place in the draw.

In most tournaments on the calendar, if there is a withdrawal then a top-up player comes in, but with the tiered system being used at the UK Championship, World Snooker Tour decided against using top-ups.

The WST ruling states: ‘If a player withdraws from this event after the draw, but before playing their first scheduled match, due to the tiered structure of the event they will not be replaced and their opponent will receive a bye into the next round.’

Steven Hallworth has played as a top-up in a number events this season after finishing third on the Q School Order of Merit at the summer, and memorably reached the last 16 of the British Open in September after taking one of those opportunities.

He is very disappointed that top-ups are not being used in the UK Championship, tweeting: ‘How disgusting is this @WeAreWST when there are hungry players like myself chomping at the bit to get in these tournaments now, missing out by 2 places from the order of merit. Shambles.

‘I backed myself with money and time to finish high up on order of merit to warrant invites to comps. Practise 8 hours a day UNPAID to read they are giving walkovers when I’m hungry to play in anything and everything.’

MORE : Lee Stephens: Is there enough diversity in snooker from a Black perspective? Obviously there isn’t

MORE : Liang Wenbo suspended from snooker due to ‘allegations of misconduct’

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