Timeline: How the BDO slowly bled to death after 47 years
What had been in the air for quite some time after a financial problems, messing around with tournament draws and a bad commercial policy has now become reality. The British Darts Organisation is no more.
This has brought a difficult period of several years to a painful end. In this article you can read the history of the illustrious federation: from the start of the BDO to the problems surrounding the BDO, which was dissolved after 47 years of activity.
1973: The BDO is founded
The British Darts Organisation is founded on January 7, 1973. Olly Croft is the founder. Three years later the World Darts Federation is founded.
1978: The first World Championship
The BDO hosts the first BDO World Professional Darts Championship, which was also better known as Lakeside or later The Embassy.
1992: The PDC is founded
Nineteen players, all of which World Champions were still active, decided to start an own federation, the World Darts Council (WDC). This later became the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC). They advocated for better commercial strategies in the sport and wanted more attention for tournaments.
1993: The last unified World Championship
The last joint World Championship is played in the BDO. After this edition the PDC also organizes a World Championship. John Lowe was the last World Champion in a unified field in 1993.
Growing popularity for the sport in The Netherlands
In the beginning era of the PDC, the popularity for the BDO tournaments, started to grow in the Nederlands. All this was due to Raymond van Barneveld’s successes in the World Professional Darts Championship. Barney reached the final of the tournament in 1997’s edition, winning the title in 1998 & 1999.
Thanks to the growing popularity for the sport in the Netherlands, BDO tournaments were getting broadcast more and more in Dutch television.
Still, the BDO could not prevent more and more players from switching to the PDC, partly due to a big difference in the prize money to be earned at the tournaments. For example, top players and former World Champions left the BDO to join the PDC.
2009: Barry Hearn makes an offer for the BDO
On October 21, 2009, PDC Chairman Barry Hearn made a £1,000,000 offer for the British Darts Organisation. Hearn also promised to invest 1 million pounds in the BDO. Olly Croft, founder of the BDO said later that day, that he rejected the offer. After the 2010 World Darts Championship, the counties said that the BDO should have given more thought to the offer.
2011: BDO executives voted out
Prior to the annual meeting of BDO members, several players, officials and other employees expressed their dissatisfaction with the state of affairs surrounding the current board members. The dissatisfaction mainly came from the setting up of (television) tournaments and recruiting new sponsors. With the exception of one board member, all board members of the BDO are voted out. Founder Olly Croft was also voted out.
New tours in the PDC and the failing commercial policy in the BDO
Due to the ever-growing professionalism of the PDC, the start of a Development Tour and a Challenge Tour, it is becoming more and more attractive for players to try their luck in the PDC instead than the BDO, which offers less platform because more and more BDO-tournaments disappear from the television.
The bad promotion policy of the BDO was also starting to annoy players in the BDO. Ross Montgomery, Tony O'Shea and Glen Durrant expressed their dissatisfaction in 2018 addressing the bad promotion policy and regulations surrounding to play PDC tournaments as a BDO member.
October 1, 2018: All restrictions for BDO players who want to compete in PDC-tournaments are lifted
The BDO takes a big decision. They want to expand their “Darts for All”-vision and pave the way for players to compete in both federations. This also means that women can now qualify for the women’s Lakeside, as well the PDC World Darts Championship.
The beginning of the end
After 2018, troubles in the BDO are starting to grow. It becomes more and more difficult to sell tv-rights, search for tournament locations and recruit sponsors for tournaments. In 2019, the BDO World Trophy was already questionable, but the BDO managed to find a location for it just in time. Short after that announcement, master of ceremonies Richard Ashdown and four referees said that they will stop their work for the BDO.
Discontent also began to grow among the players. Several players announced that they were boycotting the World Masters, because they did not agree with the format of the tournament.
That tournament was later discredited by a somewhat malicious appearance in the draw of the tournament. Fake names were used in the draw and players who were qualified were not included in the draw. Following this incident, the BDO was faced with even more criticism. Former world-finalist Andy Hamilton made a statement on Twitter about the events at the tournament.
On December 1, 2019 the World Darts Federation stopped with the recognization of BDO tournaments. The biggest reason for this decision were the problems in the 2019 World Masters.
During the BDO World Championship in 2020, which was no longer played at the iconical Lakeside venue, there was uncertainty about the prize money that would be paid out to the participants.
It also became clear during the World Cup that the BDO was deeply in debt to a Dutch production company that was responsible for the broadcasting of the World Masters.
Three days after the payment term, part of the promised prize pool was nevertheless paid out. Title winner Wayne Warren received £23,000 as opposed to the £100,000 initially promised.
Des Jacklin resigns and returns
BDO Chairman Des Jacklin, who was leading the BDO since August 2018, decided in March 2020 to step down from his position as chairman. He was accused of conflict of interest and also was the main reason for the financial malfunction in the organisation
April 2020 - Jacklin came back as BDO chairman. The counties were expecting Jacklin to move the BDO through the Coronavirus pandemic.
£468,000 debt, British Darts Organisation Enterprises Ltd. goes bankrupt
In June 2020, the commercial branch of the BDO was in big debt. This branch was declared bankrupt a few days later. This meant the end of BDO televised tournaments, including BDO World Trophy, World Masters and the BDO World Championship.
Counties choose UKDA, the end of the British Darts Organisation
While the BDO was only responsible for county darts now, a new association started, the UKDA who alongside Tri-Nations were looking to take over. In September 2020, all the counties left the BDO to join the United Kingdom Darts Association. This was the last push for the BDO, as the British Darts Organisation had slowly bled to death after 47 years.