Barry Hearn has covered a number of topics in a tell-all interview.

The PDC Chairman sat down with Live Darts during the World Matchplay to discuss the Premier League Darts, the Grand Slam, the World Series and more. Starting with the Premier League, Hearn has admitted that the ‘contenders’ initiative took a while to grow on him, but is now here to stay.

“What was nice about it was, in the world of social media, at first we were slaughtered – what a rubbish idea.

“It was Matt Porter’s idea. I wasn’t sure about it. I kept seeing more and more benefits, so I called Matt and said: ‘Go on then’,” Hearn said.

“The players responded. I don’t think anyone will forget the entrance of John Henderson in Aberdeen.

“They all played out of their skin…none won, a few got draws but they all knocked on the door. In this world of opportunity that exists within the PDC, the harder you knock, the more likely you are to be heard.

“They’ve given me a problem!

“There’s half a dozen players out there who actually, subject to a few good results this season, are really knocking on the door of the Premier League.

“The contenders is an idea that’s here to stay for now.”

Steve Welsh/PDC

Photo: Steve Welsh/PDC

Expansion plans

The PDC continues to grow as a global sport, though the 2019 World Series omitted Asia from its program. Hearn believes that expansion will only continue apace in the near future, and has some revelations planned that darts fans will learn of in due course.

“I think we’re going to make an announcement soon,” he revealed.

“There’s going to be some interesting developments in America. We’ve got a big TV contract there. It’s a big country to conquer – it’s not going to be easy!

“I’m looking at Scandinavia, I think there’s a market there. Can we bring back something in China, because there’s potentially big markets.

“The World Series is an immediate platform for us, where we take the best players in the world, put them against locals, put it on TV and try to spread the game.

“It’s working. But it’s an evolution. Over a period of time, those invitational events will have to become open events.”

Those thoughts will be music to the ears of the likes of Vincent van der Voort, who has criticised the number of invitational events in the PDC calendar.

Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

BDO concerns

While the PDC goes from strength to strength – the World Matchplay prize pot is a record £700,000 – the BDO is in dire straits. A World Trophy venue has been confirmed, but there are all sorts of doubts over Des Jacklin’s chances of turning the ship around. Hearn dismissed the idea of reducing the BDO element in the Grand Slam of Darts, but wants to be sure the BDO is still in a position to send players to Wolverhampton.

“I think from a quality standpoint, all you can do is beat the man in front of you. The winner of any BDO event is a good winner, because he’s beaten the men in front of him.

“The doubts over the BDO’s future are something that worries me more.

“I think we need the BDO, we need amateur [darts].

“There’s no doubt the best players, they’d be crazy not to want to [join the PDC].

“I’ve just spent a few minutes talking to Glen Durrant. He turns around and says ‘I’m so grateful to have the opportunity’.

“Anyone with ability, be it Jamie Hughes, those types of players – the PDC has no barriers.

“What their [the BDO’s] relevance is going to over the next few years is something we’ll have to wait and see.”

It was confirmed that the BDO will still have eight players at the Grand Slam, and there are no current plans for that to change.

Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Big ambition

There are still a few topics up for debate in the PDC – for instance, the quality of dartboards, which the likes of Simon Whitlock have bemoaned recently. Hearn revealed that a report on the Unicorn matchboards will be released soon. Looking ahead, the PDC Chairman is full of hope for the game’s future.

“Watch this space.

“The one thing about life, about relationships, is complacency is the biggest killer.

“There will never be a day when I don’t spend most of my working hours trying to think of something that keeps the game vibrant, puts something new in the public’s eye, and improves profitability.

“We have a great sustainable, profitable business where prize money has gone from £500,000 when I took over to £15,ooo,ooo.

“There will be one or two things that will shock you in the next few months.

“The game will continue to progress, to give opportunities, and to give players life-changing money – if they’re not.

“If they’re not – get another job!”

Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

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Author: Ed McCosh