The second of darts’ world championships is over – yes, there are two – and that means Wayne Warren of Wales is atop the darts world when it comes to the British Darts Organization’s (BDO) version.
He beat his fellow Welshman, Jim Williams, in a decent game and, in all honesty, Warren shot well.
You could also see how much winning it meant to Warren as he hugged the trophy and was genuinely emotional. No matter what you think about darts – and judging by a lot of people, not as much as us people who watch and play the sport – it was a great moment. He had been waiting to win it for a long time and he enjoyed every second of it.
The question now is this: how much will Warren get for winning what’s been advertised as the World Professional Darts Championship? That’s become the big issue on that side of the fence.
As I’ve written about in past darts articles, there are two main “professional” organizations: the BDO and the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC).
Each claims to be the standard-bearer when it comes to professional darts although the PDC has far and away become the more popular and richer of the two sides. For example, the PDC World Championship winner, Peter Wright of Scotland, received £500,000 for his win on Jan. 1 over Michael van Gerwen of the Netherlands. That’s a tidy sum of cash and pays a bill or six.
Until this year, the winner of the BDO World Professional Darts Championship received £100,000, not as much as the PDC winner but still a handsome reward. I wouldn’t turn it down if I was offered it. Glen Durrant, who now plays on the PDC circuit, was the last recipient of that amount of money and he may be the final recipient of said amount.
Because the BDO is apparently flat broke and questions are arising about whether those who played in the tournament will see a penny of prize money at all.
The questions began before the tournament began when Des Jacklin, the BDO’s self-described chief executive officer (the official title is chairman), sent out a letter to the players telling them that the prize money would be “reduce(d) somewhat” because of the lack of a title sponsor and ticket sales not being what they expected.
The BDO moved its flagship event from the Lakeside Country Club in Surrey, England, the home of the tournament from 1986 to 2019, to the Indigo at the O2 Theatre in London. The idea was that putting the event on in London would generate huge interest and people would flock to the venue. Jacklin was also banking on sellouts for every session – 1,600-plus people – to help fill the coffers that would pay out the prize money.
That didn’t happen and that was mistake No. 1. What fool would budget on sellouts for what many darts people consider the secondary world championship? Only 15 per cent of all available tickets were bought and Jacklin said because of that, revenue was down 85 per cent. At least he can do basic math.
Anyone who does business in sports will tell you sponsorship is absolutely vital because without that, you don’t pay any bills. Ticket revenue is what takes care of the non-playing side of business.
It also didn’t help that the BDO priced almost every average person out, charging nearly 50 per cent more per session that what the PDC did for its world championship. Hardly anyone in their right mind was going to pay to watch players no one knew at a venue no one could afford to go to. Because of that, the BDO was forced to cut ticket prices almost in half during the tournament and give out freebies. Because free tickets will pay the bills.
There were comments about how nice the venue was and how good the darts were and no one is arguing those points. The venue looked spiffy and the quality of the games were decent compared to recent years. None of that translated into revenue, though, as the place looked empty on most nights and no amount of dark lighting could fix it.
The women’s tournament was a sad example of how bad it’s become as their prize money was cut so much that one of the players’ husbands, Tony Martin, started a crowdfunding initiative to shore up the resources.
Martin managed to cobble together roughly £2,000 in extra cash to divvy up between the ladies. Mikuru Suzuki of Japan won for the second year in a row and her reward was supposedly £8,000, a far cry from the £20,000 the women’s champ was promised.
Because of all this, many of the players who played in the BDO version – male and female – have entered the PDC qualification tournament – Q-School – in the hopes of winning a tour card for 2020 and a piece of the close to £15 million up for grabs on that circuit. What do they have to lose by doing so? The other option is a farce.
Here’s what has to happen now: Jacklin needs to step aside. He claimed he would resign following the debacle of the BDO World Masters last November, which included fake players being put into the draw and some players not knowing they had to register before playing. Jacklin needs to go now. Yesterday. The players don’t trust him anymore and they’re becoming more vocal by the hour. Jacklin blames social media for creating a “toxic” environment surrounding the BDO but he himself is to blame. The captain is responsible for the ship and all he’s done is whine about how some people are saying mean things.
The BDO will most likely cease to exist in the coming weeks and whatever rises from the ashes of that needs to realize one thing: the PDC is where it’s at in professional darts. The World Darts Federation understood this well before the BDO did and has been in talks with the PDC for the last few months.
What comes from that is anyone’s guess but it can’t be any worse than what the BDO finds itself in.
I guess this is farewell to the BDO and it can rest in peace. Just make sure the players get their money first.