County news: Sussex star suspended by World Snooker

Sussex player Leo Fernandez has been suspended by World Snooker pending a hearing into suspicious betting patterns.

Leo Fernandez
Leo Fernandez

Snooker’s governing body, the WPBSA, said it has opened an investigation after Bexhill-based Fernandez lost 10-4 to Gary Wilson in qualifying for this year’s World Championship.

The WPBSA said suspicious betting patterns were reported following the match, which took place at Ponds Forge in Sheffield on April 6.

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Fernandez faces a formal hearing in front of a WPBSA disciplinary committee on a date to be determined. Wilson is not under investigation.

“The available evidence has been considered and in accordance with the disciplinary rules, [it has been] decided that there is a case for Leo Fernandez to answer in relation to a breach of the WPBSA members’ rules, betting rules,” a statement read.

Fernandez first turned professional in 1995 and has one non-ranking title win. He has been an intermittent presence on the professional tour over the years and returned in 2015 to compete at Q School, but failed to regain a tour place.

The best result of his career was his run to the last 16 of the 2003 Welsh Open and he qualified for the 1999 World Championship, losing to Ronnie O’Sullivan.

Fernandez achieved a highest world ranking of 67 and won the English Amateur Championship in 2011 after recovering from testicular cancer.

Fernandez was due to compete in the Indian Open and World Open qualifiers this week, and the Riga Masters qualifiers this weekend, but his scheduled opponents have received walkovers as a result of his suspension.

The 39-year-old was born in Ireland, but moved to England at a young age. He came to Bexhill from London in 2010 to be with the sister of Bexhill snooker professional Jimmy Robertson having met her on social media site Facebook a few months earlier.

Fernandez has since worked and coached at O’Sullivans Snooker & Pool Club in Wickham Avenue, which is run by Robertson with his family.

Fernandez said he isn’t permitted to comment while the investigation is ongoing.

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