DARTS is ready to go from bulls to bubbles to get the sport back onto the big stage. In our DW story earlier, PDC bosses revealed a fortnight ago that the World Matchplay would go ahead from July 18, the first major after lockdown.
However, it seems almost certain that it will be temporarily moved from its traditional and iconic Winter Gardens home in Blackpool. It is likely to be relocated next month to the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes which has just successfully hosted the behind-closed-doors Championship League, also under the Matchroom Sport umbrella.
But The PDC has also exclusively revealed to DW they are working closely with players union PDPA in an attempt to unravel a hugely complicated future around the ranking prize money dilemma.
With so many tournaments wiped out this year because of the coronavirus crisis, it has been a minefield for bosses to decide on how to freeze ranking money, if that is the fairest way forward for all 128 tour cardholders. Nathan Aspinall, who won the unique lockdown Home Tour event last week, admits it’s a real dilemma that all players are concerned about.
He said: “I would not like to be Barry Hearn or Matthew Porter. Because they are going to please people with what they decide and annoy some people.”
The Asp continued “The situation that we are in, it’s going to be impossible to please all 128 tour card holders.”
“I do think it’s how they deal with people defending prize money on the rankings. They need to think about that carefully. I have no idea how they are going to decide that. “In an ideal world we’ll play every single event that was scheduled but in a short space of time but I don’t think that’s going to be possible.“All I know is that it’s going to be one hell of a headache for them all.”
The Asp is still hoping that the Matchplay could go ahead at his “local” venue in Blackpool, just a short distance from his Stockport base. He said: “Obviously the Matchplay being the second biggest tournament of the year I think that’s a great way to kick it all back off.“ Personally I hope it goes ahead in Blackpool because the reception I got last year was phenomenal, even though I got beat first game. It’s my home tournament, I’m only 45 minutes away from Blackpool.
“Fingers crossed we can have some kind of audience there, even if it’s only 500 people, that’s better than nothing.“We have played in some European events on a stage with very little fans and we had the UK Open in Minehead a couple of years back.
“But any TV event you need that buzz, that adrenalin and that comes with the atmosphere, the crowd being loud.
“It will definitely be different but we’re professionals and play ProTours week-in, week-out behind closed doors.
I think the walk-on will be the weird one, just walking straight down, no high-fives or anything.
“It’ll be strange but at least we’ll be playing on that stage. A couple of games into it we’ll probably forget there is no one there.”
Late decisions on venues and event confirmations are likely over the next few weeks, keep an eye across the Darts World platforms for the latest news and updates.
Featured pic: L Lustig/PDC