STUART BINGHAM has warned the “joke” decision to make the Shoot-Out a ranking event could cost a top player a place at the Crucible.

World Snooker announced today (May 11) that money earned at the shot-clock timed, one frame knock-out tournament will count towards the sport's money ranking list when it is next staged in February 2017.

The competition will be opened up to all 128 of the Tour’s players and not just the top 64 seeds, as has been the case since it started in 2011.

And world No 2 Bingham is one of a number of critics of the decision, saying it could see snooker's biggest stars failing to qualifying for the biggest tournaments because they dropped prize money at a tournament which is supposed to be "a bit of fun".

The 2015 world champion, who made the Shoot-Out final in 2014 but has gone out in the early rounds in the past two years, said: “I think it is an absolute joke. My last two defeats in that tournament came after my opponents fluked reds then made 30s. How can you have ranking money riding on a set-up like that?

“The best-of-seven matches are short but to have £32,000 of ranking prize money resting on a ten-minute frame is not a good idea. 

"It could cost a top player a spot at The Masters or even the World Championships for going out early in the Shoot-Out because of something as silly as potting the white or not hitting the cushion.

“It is different rules in the Shoot-Out and a different way of approaching the frames, with the crowd being loud and enjoying the occasion. I think it will ruin what the tournament is supposed to be in the first place – and that’s a bit of fun.”

Bingham will start the new season at the Indian Open Qualifiers in Preston between May 28-30, but before then he will complete a ten-mile charity walk along Southend's seafront on Sunday, May 15, as he has done for several years now.

Bingham and his wife Michelle are taking part to help raise funds for the Motor Neurone Disease Association, which provided invaluable support when Michelle's father passed away with the disease in March 2014.

Hundreds took part in last year's event as Bingham carried his newly-claimed World Championship trophy along the course, and he hopes to see another great turnout this time around.

Bingham said: "It is a cause which is close to our hearts obviously and we are looking forward to making it as successful as we possibly can this year." 

For more details, or to make a donation, you can visit Michelle's Just Giving webpage by clicking here.

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