WORLD champion Mark Selby has joined the call for change at the Betway UK Championship but thinks York's Barbican Centre is still one of the best venues in snooker.

Selby spoke out in the wake of comments from other leading names in the game who say the tournament has lost its prestige.

Since 2013, the number of players taking part in the event has risen from 32 to 128 and, since 2012, the length of games prior to the final has been reduced to the best of 11 frames.

Asked whether criticism of the event this week had been unfair, Selby said: "Possibly, possibly not. Obviously, I think having 128 at the venue makes it lose its prestige a little bit. There are so many people here. I don't think it can accommodate that many people.

"It is still a major tournament but people used to put it at number two on the list and it's probably not number two now.

"The crowds have been good, even in midweek, so you can't really complain about that," he added. "But the atmosphere is lost when there are too many tables out there. The crowd is not really focused on watching one game, they are watching the others as well."

Selby believes the first two rounds of the competition should be played at a smaller venue in future so that only the top 32 players are involved at the Barbican. He also wants the length of the games to be increased.

"When it gets to a one and two table set-up, it (the Barbican) is as good as anywhere," he said. "York is a great city and this is a great venue. When you get to the latter stages, it's a really special arena. So I think playing two 'qualifiers' elsewhere and just bringing 32 to the tournament, having the two table set up, would work.

"And I would be more than happy if it went back to the best of 17 (frames)," he added. "When it was best of 17, it was one of the pinnacle tournaments on the calendar but it has probably slipped down the list of major tournaments now".

Selby, who won the tournament in York four years ago, is aiming to reach his third UK Championship final in the last five years and, despite living in Leicester, will be staying in York until his campaign is over.

"I am still in it but there is still a long way to go," he said. "I am confident and I am playing well.

"To travel back home would take two hours and, by the time you get home, you would need to be travelling back again. So I choose to stay here and practice and watch a little bit of the snooker.

"But I have been out and about in the town a few days to kill a bit of time," he added. "Staying in the venue all day, I would have been pulling my hair out!"

Selby lines-up in the quarterfinals on Friday night against three-times former champion John Higgins who beat Irishman Mark Allen 6-3 on Thursday afternoon.

Higgins said: "I will need to play a lot better than I have done in any other match this week to beat Mark. He has been the world number one for four or five years and does not get the credit he deserves."

Higgins also revealed that his winnings from the competition, £52,500 so far, would help pay for his wife Denise's birthday present - a New Year holiday to a secret destination.

Welshman Jamie Jones, meanwhile, booked a quarterfinal date with Marco Fu thanks to a 6-2 victory over David Gilbert.

Selby has linked up with tournament sponsors Betway to promote Crazy Snooker at the Barbican this week. For more information see below...