YORK’S love affair with snooker shows no sign of abating ahead of tomorrow’s start of the williamhill.com UK Championship.

With the return of the game’s second biggest tournament to the Minster city last year producing advanced sales which were the highest in the tournament’s history, World Snooker chiefs have revealed that demand is just as strong in 2012.

Advance sales are at level pegging with 12 months ago, which saw a total of 5,832 tickets sold before the battle on the green baize got underway.

In all, around 8,000 tickets were sold for the nine-day competition — a factor which persuaded the governing body to make York the UK Championship’s home until the end of 2013.

World Snooker have stressed that tickets are still on sale and, with world number one Judd Trump, former champion John Higgins and two-time winner Ding Junhui among those in action on the opening weekend, have urged people to come along and see the game live.

Ivan Hirschowitz, World Snooker spokesman, said: “Last year overall our ticket sales hit record levels, and we are very close to the same level this year, so hopefully the people of York will continue to support us and help us to break the record again.

“There are still tickets on sale and anyone thinking of coming to the Barbican should call 0844 854 2757 for the latest availability. If you haven’t seen live snooker before, this tournament is really something special.

“There are top stars like Judd Trump and John Higgins competing and some really interesting names came through the qualifiers including legend Steve Davis and teenage prodigy Luca Brecel. It’s building up to be a tremendous tournament.”