RONNIE O’Sullivan’s right, you know. Snooker is snookered and on its last table-legs.

The three-times world champion who has pocketed close on £6million in prize money reckons the sport is in need of a major overhaul.

He has even called on someone like pop impresario turned reality-show guru Simon Cowell to try to transform the game’s ebbing fortunes.

It may well be that snooker needs a Mr Big as it had when it underwent its first radical makeover.

Back in the old BBC2 days when Pot Black was a television curio, the nation had a weekly snooker tournament largely viewed by people watching mono televisions. The bizarre nature of it all spawned the famous commentary quote, “And for those of you watching in black and white, the brown ball is behind the pink.”

However, a certain Barry Hearn, boxing promoter and later chairman of Leyton Orient Football Club, was to inspire a far-reaching change.

Aided by a growing popular interest fuelled by the emergence of players like Alex Higgins, Dennis Taylor, Cliff Thorburn, and even the beer-swilling Bill Werbeniuk to supplement the grandees like Ray Reardon and Eddie Charlton, cueing and chalking, pocketing and placement exploits exploded.

Snooker became big business and box-office. Television leapt upon the baize bandwagon with a fury.

There was wall-to-wall coverage and every decade a new kid in town – Steve Davis, Jimmy White, Stephen Hendry, then O’Sullivan.

The pinnacle was arguably the 1985 World Championship final at Sheffield’s Crucible cauldron, where Taylor won a black-ball game in the final frame to capture the world crown. An audience of more than 18 million viewers stayed up until the wee small hours of a Monday morning to witness the dramatic denouement.

Just five years ago, the late Paul Hunter, from Leeds, kept more than five million television viewers similarly enthralled as he came back to overhaul O’Sullivan and win his third Masters title.

So there is an audience for snooker, but, as O’Sullivan lamented, interest and excitement seems to be diminishing.

But what of his suggestion that someone like Cowell might muscle in to re-invent the game. What would he propose? A television format called The Baize Team or Table Manners, maybe even A Bridge Too Far.

What about The Frame Academy – “take six waistcoat-wearing youngsters wielding cues. Lock them in a snooker hall for seven weeks and”…..snoresville UK.

For me the basic problem about snooker is the inherent nature of the game.

When upcoming prospects start out, they play in draughty halls where television sets blare, jukeboxes rattle and roll, glasses clink and clash, other players carry on arguments about jammy shots to jams on the road that held them up on the way to the venue. Yet when the professionals do their stuff everything is treated with a hushed reverence, where a shout of encouragement or exasperation is deemed as irreverent as a fart in the middle of York Minster.

I know there’s no way you can have a roaring, cat-calling, bawling accompaniment to the game. That would be ludicrous, but therein lies snooker’s great weakness. It cannot generate too much spectator involvement other than polite applause.

Take darts. It has that intrinsic extra ingredient in that the crowds get worked up. Yes, it’s an atmosphere hyped by television, but it’s integral to the sport.

Snooker by contrast is essentially two men walking around a table, looking at it then attempting to place items into certain areas. It could easily be someone laying the table for Christmas dinner. Shall I go for the red napkin there, or maybe the green-handled fork here?

Unless there is a rocket applied to the game, O’Sullivan is right – snooker is haemorrhaging lifeblood like the red balls sliding into pockets whose ends have not been sewn up.

FROM reds to sky blues, and the ever more likely arrival of Brazilian superstar Kaka to Manchester City.

The figure of £108million to take the coveted striker from AC Milan to Eastlands and the rumoured wages of anything between £250,000 to £500,000 a week are obscene.

But it’s always been so in football ever since Alf Common became the first £1,000 player when he moved from Sunderland to Middlesbrough in 1905.

My problem with the Arabian money-fuelled circus is that if Kaka does join in this January window and City were relegated in May, would he want to be playing next season at Roots Hall, Oakwell or Home Park?