The Coronavirus outbreak has massively affected multiple sports with Darts being one that has seen most of it’s schedule wiped out for the coming months, PDC Chief Executive Matthew Porter gave an update this past week about the Premier League in particular.

Multiple measures have been put into place such as Rotterdam being rescheduled in September; for Porter it is all about managing the schedule so that as much darts can be played when it does return in the coming months,

“We’ve announced that all the Premier League nights up to the end of April are postponed [and it’s] more than likely the May ones will be as well but we’re working through the challenges associated with those; we’ll fit things back into our calendar as best we can, probably in the second half of 2020,” said Porter to the Darts Show Podcast.

“So far, we’ve been fortunate in that we’ve been able to reschedule every night for a Thursday; which is good because I think people associate Thursdays with Premier League darts; so we can keep that continuity even if it does mean we’re in the second half of the year.

“We don’t want to go too late because of the other big events we have in the lead-up to Christmas, so we’ll get as much done throughout the summer and early part of the autumn as we can.”

Difficulties in rescheduling events

One of the challenges comes from venues and while he admits this isn’t that much of an issue as some might think, the amount of time to hold events is; so as a result, certain events may not occur at all when postponed according to Porter.

“It is difficult. Venue availability is key, things have got to fit in geographically, we can’t be in two places at once – we need time to build events and then take them down again afterwards – we’ve obviously got commitments to fans, broadcasters, sponsors, venues and all sorts of different stakeholders.

“We’re working through it. Fortunately, we were a bit ahead of the game, we spoke to a lot of venues three or four weeks ago on this just to pre-empt it; so we’ve had back-up dates held for longer than perhaps other promoters have.

“It might be that a couple of events away from the top tier have to bite the bullet for this year, and that might be something we look at; because ultimately there’s only so many weekends in the year. We hope to put on as much of it on as possible.”

Potential help for players with no sponsorship/income during barren period

A lot has been made away from the oche about the self employed being catered for; with most darts players in the same boat, Porter has said that the PDC and PDPA will be there for players who potentially have issues during this time.

“I think it’s fair to say that you can write off most of the next three months; that’s going to be a difficult position to try and get anything up and running again.

“Whether the restrictions are relaxed at some point in the future and we’re able to put events on – tour events for the players’ benefit only in controlled situations; with extremely limited numbers of people and certain health and safety regulations in place – that’s just speculation.

“None of us know, but we’re conscious of the fact that darts players are self-employed and that, technically; they’re not really earning any sort of income at the moment.

“Some of them might be fortunate enough to have sponsors who are still paying them; but those who rely on prize money and exhibition income are going to be struggling.

“We’ll speak to the PDPA about that and we don’t want to see anybody fall off the radar in that respect – it’s important that players are communicating with us if they do find themselves in a difficult position, and if we have to look at putting things together to help them through these times then so be it.”

Potential for darts to be played behind closed doors?

Fans have called for darts to potentially be played behind closed doors; while it hasn’t been ruled out, until government restrictions are lifted, it is hard to know for sure.

“In theory, darts can be played behind closed doors as long as there’s two players and somebody to keep score,” he said.

“It could be possible, we’d obviously have to bear in mind Government advice and restrictions – would venues be open, what would the conditions be like?

“It’s not impossible, but I don’t think anything’s going to be happening for a while.”


Photo: RTL7Darts

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Author: Samuel Gill