Wayne Mardle has launched himself into the Raymond van Barneveld Premier League debate.

Many darts fans have argued that van Barneveld must be given a spot on his de facto farewell tour. Others have said that the Dutchman has not done enough to warrant inclusion. Sky Sports commentator Mardle is on the side of the former. The ex-Premier League contestant stated categorically that the five-time world champion must be in the 2019 competition.

“It’s about putting bums on seats, it’s about selling out arenas,” Mardle asserted to Live Darts.

“Who would you rather watch – Jamie Lewis or Raymond van Barneveld? I’m just saying.

“All these people that are giving it: “You can’t have Barney in the Premier League – what’s he done?”

“Apart from five world titles, he’s done absolutely nothing…

“Apart from a Grand Slam and a Premier League, he’s done absolutely nothing…apart from someone who may have changed the landscape of darts in Europe, Raymond van Barneveld has done absolutely nothing apart from that!

“Leave him out in his last year and the PDC and Sky Sports are missing out on a major opportunity.”

Pieter Verbeek/PV-Darts

Photo: Pieter Verbeek/PV-Darts

The main attraction

Van Barneveld still proves a major draw, with the Dutchman a firm fan favourite wherever he plays. That’s especially true in Rotterdam, where the Dutch darting maestro is revered. With Rotterdam hosting two Premier League nights again in 2019, Barney may be too big an attraction to ignore. His impending retirement makes that fact yet more pertinent.

“Knowing that these people that are coming to see him may be thinking ‘we may never see Raymond van Barneveld play again’ – they’ve got to put him in,” Mardle argued.

“If you put in the likes of Joe Cullen, the likes of Ian White, they can’t fill arenas like Raymond van Barneveld, I’m not having it!

“I don’t think there are ten players in the world better than him or ten players in the world that command the respect he commands.

Though van Barneveld is slipping down the PDC Order of Merit, Mardle believes the 2007 PDC world champion’s class is timeless.

“I don’t think there are ten players who can get up there week-in, week-out and prove that they are absolutely world class, that’s the main thing,” said the Sky Sports pundit.

“If we’re going on rankings, is he really the 17th best player in the world? Not a chance.”

Pieter Verbeek/PV-Darts

Photo: Pieter Verbeek/PV-Darts

Author: Ed McCosh