For close to a decade many have forecast the collapse of the British Darts Organisation (BDO). Others have predicted its absorption into the PDC or similar body. Yet, it is still here and seemingly on the verge of, finally, securing a measure of stability. New leadership, again, and a few obvious but difficult decisions may point the way to a revival of the mass participation side of UK darts.
Sources told Darts World that “important, and large scale, announcements are imminent”. These may go some way to reassuring players, and county representatives, that the BDO has a plan and perhaps the ability to execute it.
High up on the priority list, for BDO leadership, must be securing the future of its three major events especially its World Championship. Venues, Sponsorship and TV coverage need to be secured, and assured, for the next three to five years. This would provide the framework within which the organisation could be revitalised.
If and when the first priority is realised it must be backed up with a clear structure of all the BDO’s activities going forward. Getting the various elements of the current structure to buy into this will take considerable skill and probably a very thick skin. It is never easy to run a professional organisation by committee and the turbulent history of Board vs County/Grassroots style disputes have left considerable mistrust.
Another major difficulty will be the commercial experience and capacity of those within the BDO. It seems to many that a group of experienced business and enterprise-minded people with a love for the game may provide inspiration and a clear plan for a restructuring of the organisation and its rules.
One thing that may have changed, over the past year or so, is the level of positivity toward the organisation and the product it offers. Players and supporters alike, seem to have responded very strongly to the opening up of BDO events to as many players as possible. Those former PDC players who have returned, report positive experiences and atmospheres. Their presence at Lakeside, among other places, added new stories, characters and rivalries as well as generating additional and varied different media coverage.
For a long time, the BDO vs PDC discussion has focused on some sort of direct rivalry. However understandable, in a historical context, this may be, the straight forward truth is it that it is no longer true. Do the BDO directly own, promote or run televised competitions, for elite, developing & youth players, all over the globe? Do the PDC run mass participation events, for thousands of players, in various formats over three or four days? Thus the organisations have become totally different animals.
It seems clear, from our recent conversations, that there are many in the BDO who realise this and are beginning to set aside the old attitudes and plan for a revitalised BDO that fulfils a major role in the development of darts in the UK and elsewhere.
We at DartsWorld wish the BDO every success in this latest attempt to revitalise, develop and streamline the organisation. The Grassroots, and County structure form the backbone of mass participation darts and deserve the highest quality administration and support.
However, it would be foolish not to sound a cautionary note. There have been several attempts to get the BDO on a more solid footing and take advantage of the latest boom in darts. Yet every few years the process seems to begin again.
Should this attempt fail, the end result is likely to be collapse or absorption into a more widely based, commercially aware and professional organisation.