DARTS is going from bullseyes to bubbles to get the sport back onto the big stage. Professional Darts Corporation bosses revealed a fortnight ago that the World Matchplay would go ahead from July 18, the first major after lockdown.
However, it seems almost certain that it will be temporarily moved from its traditional and iconic Winter Gardens home in Blackpool.It is likely to be relocated next month to the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes which has just successful hosted the behind-closed-doors Championship League, also under the Matchroom Sport umbrella.
The PDC yesterday revealed that they will be hosting the PDC Summer Series from July 8-12 at the Marshalls Arena.The Series will see all 128 Tour Card Holders given the chance to compete in five one-day Players Championship events, played behind closed doors at Marshall Arena, subject to the UK Government quarantine policy on overseas visitors.
As with all 2020 Players Championship events, prize money will stand at £75,000 per event, with all winnings counting towards the relevant PDC Orders of Merit.
PDC Chairman Barry Hearn said: “Throughout the challenging times of recent weeks we have continuously explored different ways of getting players back on the oche and live darts back on fans’ screens.
“I was proud of our players and staff who broadcast 43 nights of live remote darts through the innovative PDC Home Tour, which thrust darts into the limelight in a unique way at a time when almost all other sports were unable to provide any form of competitive action.
“Prior to the Home Tour, I outlined the three-stage plan for the return of darts, starting with events played remotely, followed by events played behind closed doors, before events can be played in front of crowds.“I am delighted that we are now able to move on to the second stage of that plan, and hopefully, we will be able to safely welcome crowds back to our events in the not-too-distant future.
“The PDC Summer Series will provide a welcome return of live darts for both players and fans alike, and I’m sure the event will whet the appetite for the prestigious Betfred World Matchplay. “We appreciate the patience of our players in recent weeks as we worked to secure these events, and further details will be confirmed to them in due course.”
The PDC has also told Darts World they are working closely with players union PDPA in an attempt to unravel a hugely complicated future around the ranking prize money dilemma. With so many tournaments wiped out this year because of the coronavirus crisis, it has been a minefield for bosses to decide on how to freeze ranking money, if that is the fairest way forward for all 128 tour cardholders.