United Kingdom

Crowds return to the Crucible for World Snooker Championship final in Sheffield

Crowds made a welcome return to the Crucible as Ronnie O'Sullivan and Kyren Wilson began their Snooker World Championship final on Saturday afternoon.

A socially-distanced audience of 300 in the 980-capacity arena in Sheffield has been permitted after the Government made a late U-turn following almost two weeks of action without spectators.

Some fans who had kept hold of the prized tickets from the original tournament ballot were thrilled.

A crowd of 300 was in attendance at the Crucible as the World Snooker final got underway

The socially-distanced audience settled in to watch Ronnie O'Sullivan take on Kyren Wilson

Match referee Brendan Moore posted this picture of the crowds back inside the theatre 

But others who'd handed back tickets following the Covid-19 pandemic received a refund and that left 500 tickets for the four sessions on Saturday and Sunday put back on sale on Friday.

Over 10,000 people applied for the 500 remaining tickets, priced at £121 for the first three sessions and £132 for the last session, and they sold out in just three hours.

Wilson and O'Sullivan reached the best of 35 frame final following two epic semi-finals that concluded on Friday.

Wilson defeated Anthony McGill 17-16 in an extraordinary final frame decider that saw McGill concede 35 points after missing a fiendish snooker eight times and Wilson twice go in-off.

Wilson fluked the green and looked close to tears as he apologised to his opponent during a 62-minute frame he eventually won 103-83 to reach his first Crucible final.

Ronnie O'Sullivan is aiming for his fifth world title in the four-session final this weekend

Kyren Wilson is playing in his first World Championship final after an epic semi-final on Friday

Later in the evening, five-time world champion O'Sullivan won three consecutive frames to surge from 16-14 down to Mark Selby to win 17-16.

But O'Sullivan has been critical of the decision to readmit spectators, describing it as an 'unnecessary risk'.

If the pilot event at the Crucible is a success, it will pave the way for other sports venues being opened up to limited numbers of crowds in the coming weeks.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: 'We can now make further careful progress on recovery with allowing audiences back for indoor performances, fans back at sports events and the reopening of more Covid-19 secure leisure businesses.'

Football news:

Adrian: Klopp is the captain of our ship. He is like a father to all Liverpool players
Bayern's super Cup experiment: flick used three different schemes and Kimmich as the ten. Not everything worked
Manchester United want to sign 18-year-old winger Atalanta Traore. He has one match in Serie A
USL club San Diego left the field for the second time (due to a homophobic insult). Last week - due to a racist
Chelsea can let Bakayoko go on loan to PSG for 3 million euros, but would like to sell him. Parisians are ahead of Milan in the fight for the player
Roma agree a transfer for Smalling with Manchester United. Talks - at an advanced stage
De Paul about Messi: you will go to war for such a captain