Fans attempting to buy tickets for the 2018 World Snooker Championship struggled to access the website after it crashed due to high demand a full year ahead of the first ball being potted.

On the same day Mark Selby beat John Higgins to win the 2017 event, Barry Hearn, the World Snooker chief, apologised on Twitter yesterday (Monday) on behalf of the Crucible’s online ticketing platform. He stated: “As part of our deal with Sheffield to host world champs we must use their ticket services. Clearly they have problems for which I apologise.”

Shortly after tickets went on sale at 9am, fans were met with a message on their screen apologising for any inconvenience and to check back again at midday.

The message read: “We are extremely sorry to report that due to a technical difficulty we have experienced a significant problem with the sales for the World Snooker Championship 2018.”

The official World Snooker account later said: “Apologies for the problems with online ticket bookings this morning, caused by extremely high demand. We are working to resolve this ASAP.”

Fans also took to Twitter to voice their complaints, with angry snooker supporter Alex Pettener saying: “It’s a joke. My wife was 89 in the queue and all that will be out of the window! Beaten but the touts last year in the Crucible queue too!”

The World Snooker Championship is in its 40th year at the Crucible, which has a 980-seat capacity, and a deal has been struck to keep it in Sheffield for another decade, UK newspaper the Daily Mirror reports.