Hearn reaffirms desire to dominate darts
21 February 2010 By Linda Maher (story source link)
Barry Hearn’s attempt to dominate world darts suffered a blow last month, when it was announced that the amateur British Darts Organisation (BDO) refused even to discuss the prospect of a merger with the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC).
Hearn had offered to buy the BDO and promised a £2 million cash injection into the amateur game. But anyone who thought the knockback would stop Hearn from expanding his empire didn’t have long to wait to be proved wrong.
He has since launched his ‘‘masterplan’’ for professional darts, including a world cup, an under-21 championship and a women’s world championship.
All this came less than a week after the PDC’s Premier League event drew 10,000 fans to the O2 in London, the biggest-ever attendance for an indoor sporting event in Britain.
The new world cup competition will be screened by Sky in December, with prize money of £150,000 on offer and 24 countries taking part.
The under-21 world championship will involve a final at the Alexandra Palace and will have a prize fund of £30,000, while the women’s championship final will be played live on Sky in Blackpool ahead of the World Matchplay final in July. It will also have a prize fund of £30,000.
‘‘The aim of our offer to the BDO was to unify the sport of darts, and this remains our long-term objective, despite the decision by the BDO county associations. To turn down £2 million without even sitting down with us to discuss the details of our offer is, in my opinion, unbelievable when you consider the poor state of health financially of the amateur game," said Hearn.
‘‘I would like to congratulate the eight counties who voted at least to consider the offer in detail by way of meeting. They have done their membership and the sport of darts proud, and can hold their heads high. We are delighted to offer each of those counties one entrant into the 2010 PDC UK Open.
Now we move forward with the beginning of a new era for darts."
Despite Hearn’s attempts for darts domination, there is still a feeling that the BDO and the World Darts Federation (WDF) are about the grassroots of the sport. The current BDO darts champion, Martin Adams, said last week that he would not be making the move to the professional game.
‘ ‘I have a quotation from my local newspaper in Peterborough from Barry Hearn that they [the PDC] are sports entertainment.
We’re not sports entertainment in the BDO and WDF, we are the sport," said Adams.
‘‘We [the BDO] need to improve quite a lot of things at all levels, but as long as we get the loyalty from the players in the BDO, then there’s no reason why we can’t achieve what we want to."
The split between the BDO and the PDC dates back to 1993 when a 16-strong group of top players, including 15time world champion Phil Taylor, broke away to form what was initially known as the World Darts Council.
Last year the BDO made a profit of £16,000 - the PDC made a profit of £1 million, had a turnover of £9 million and, according to Hearn, has about £3 million in the bank.