On Wednesday, the decision was made by the PDC for the World Matchplay to be played without an audience and also not in Blackpool with it being held behind closed doors in Milton Keynes.

Due to COVID-19 and social distancing measures being in place, it was not possible for there to be a crowd; as PDC Chief Executive Matt Porter admitted they tried every avenue to stage it in it’s spiritual home but that time saw their plan curtailed.

“It was important for us to give it every chance. It could have been easy to say back in April or May that we were going to play the World Matchplay behind closed doors. But actually we got quite close,” said PDC Chief Executive Matt Porter to Sky Sports.

“We had the full support of the venue in Blackpool, and Blackpool Council who were really keen to help up try and get it on. But in the end, it was just a bridge too far, and time just ran out on us.”

“It’s clearly not what anyone wanted,” he added. “Darts is built on atmosphere. It thrives on atmosphere; it’s popular because of its atmosphere.

“But it’s still a world-class sport in its own right, and the players will be up there playing to the best of their ability. And the way it comes across on the broadcast; as we’ve seen with behind-closed-doors football and other sports; things will be put in place to make it as watchable as possible for everyone at home.

“Players are actually more used – than people would imagine – to playing in quiet environments. Normally they are tour events, rather than the premier events; the ones everyone are used to watching on TV. But it is something they’re used to. So it won’t be that much of a shock for them, until they turn around to celebrate and realise there’s nobody there!

“They’ll be focused; they’ll be delivering to the best of their ability. It will still be a very watchable spectacle.”

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Author: Samuel Gill