Van der Voort very critical about qualifying system and players association PDPA: 'The European Championship is just a joke'

Vincent van der Voort has criticised the qualification system for the European Championship, which starts at the end of October in Oberhausen, stating that the current set-up is a disadvantage for players with a PDC Tour Card.

Only four of the thirteen scheduled Euro Tour tournaments will be completed this year due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus. Despite this, the PDC have decided to continue the televised tournament and invite the top 32 on the European Tour Order of Merit after four European Tour events for the European Championship.

Van der Voort does not agree with this decision and at the very least believes that the results of the European Championship should not count towards the PDC Order of Merit.

''You cannot hold a European Championship based on four European Tour tournaments. ''They have not thought properly about it. Now you have 32 players, but it doesn't reflect who has been good this year. I don't think that's right'', the Dutchman said in an interview with Dutch website Dartsnieuws.

He thinks there are only two possible options. "Of course that tournament must continue, I understand that. But either you should use a different ranking system, or you should not count the European Championship for the ranking.

“I understand that (due to the corona outbreak, etc.) you cannot organize many Euro Tour tournaments. However, you cannot play a European Championship - with such amount of prize money - based on four of the thirteen tournaments.

“If a competition is cancelled after four weeks, you cannot say that someone is the champion because they are at the top after four weeks. With things like this you can see that no one in the top of the PDC has played at a high darts level.''

Critical about PDPA's role

Van der Voort believes that the PDPA has failed to defend the interests of the 128 Tour Card holders. "They really don't do anything against this, that's really awful. They should have tried to stop this.''

At the same time, the former UK Open finalist doubts whether a disapproving reaction from the players association would change the system. ''I don't think so. But then they should have said publicly that they don't think it is correct towards the players. Then you at least give the impression that you are there for 128 people.

“This weekend there will be so many players who don't even have a Tour Card. The PDPA should monitor this much more strictly. I don't know what they are doing, but at least not representing players.''

“I have the feeling that the PDC only listens to the PDPA when it suits them, but that is my feeling. The PDC always says that they do everything in consultation with the PDPA. But when you speak to the PDPA, they say that they indicate everything, but that the PDC are not listening'', said Van der Voort, who makes it clear again that he is not speaking out for his own interest.

''It all comes across as if I have something to complain about again and I know a lot of people think that. But I didn't say it for myself, because if the Euro Tour and Pro Tour rankings were to be merged (for the European Championship), I wouldn't have been qualified either, so it's not for myself.

“If you want to qualify for the European Championship, it is better not to have a Tour Card now'', he said, referring to the Host Nation and Associate Qualifiers. "I think that's very crooked, that's not right. I'll just mention it all, because I'm straightforward. The other players will only say it if the PDC is not there. I also think a few things about that...''

Despite this, the 44-year-old from Purmerend is full of praise for the efforts of PDC director Matt Porter. “We really cannot complain about the organisation of tournaments. We are getting the Winter Series soon and the televised tournaments have been played as well. So in that respect they are really great.''

''Matt Porter works really hard to get it all done. Hats off to all that he has accomplished. It's really not easy, because the conditions regarding corona change every week. He has done a great job, they only make a mess with the ranking system.

What needs to change?

Van der Voort has expressed his dissatisfaction with the ranking system several times in recent years, although it has not yet come to an extensive discussion with PDC chairman Barry Hearn.

They had a small conversation at the most recent World Championship in Alexandra Palace. Hearn tried to put the Dutchman in his place.

''He came to me and said I was the one who always criticizes his ranking systems. Then I said that he keeps changing them, so that I'm probably right'', he said about the meeting with the PDC boss.

As Van der Voort was preparing for his World Championship match, there was no time for a discussion about points for improvement with regard to the European Tour circuit.

The Dutchman explains what he thinks needs to change. "For me it is very simple. You just play a qualifying tournament one day before the start of the European Tour tournament. We (the Dutch players, etc.) always have to travel to England. Let them travel to the tournament venue and organise a qualifying tournament there.

“Players without a PDC Tour Card - with the exception of the number of players via the Challenge Tour - simply do not participate. They have the chance to get involved by winning a Tour Card at Q-School. A Euro Tour is such a big tournament that you cannot let people participate who actually have no business there.''

Since last season, Tour Card holders have been playing their qualifying tournaments for the European Tour events prior to Pro Tour double-headers. In this way, European players - especially those from the European mainland - save costs because they have to travel less.

Van der Voort believes that these qualifying tournaments should be played at the venues of the European Tour tournaments. ''If you want to qualify for Wimbledon as a tennis player, you also have to play the qualification tournament at Wimbledon. So if the tournament is in Austria, then you go to Austria.

“The PDC knows that a large proportion of the players are British and the PDC doesn't want them to lose much money on traveling. That's what it's all about, while we - the Dutch players - always have to travel.''

Free advice

Despite voicing these criticisms, Van der Voort does not believe that the European Tour system will change in the short term. "I don't have that illusion, no. I just don't expect anything more from the PDC, I closed that book a while ago. If someone asks my opinion, I just give my opinion and I always will.''

"I don't know why I can't express my opinion. It's free advice. It's not like I'm slamming them down. I think some things are going very well and some things are just really not good. Like with this European Championship, that is really a joke in my eyes'', Van der Voort concluded.

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