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Barry Hearns calls for “disgraceful” BDO board to resign

Jamie Shaw in BDO World Championship 30 Jan 2020
Barry Hearn has hit out at the BDO board (Photo by Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

PDC Chairman Barry Hearn has called for the BDO board to “resign en bloc immediately” following their treatment of players at the recent World Championship.

The 40 men and 16 women competing in last week’s BDO World Championship at Indigo at The O2 were left in the dark over how much prize money they would receive amid the uncertainty surrounding the organisation.

BDO Chairman Des Jacklin penned a letter to all competitors just days before the start of the tournament outlining that the prize fund would be significantly reduced, which he attributed to ‘toxicity’ on social media causing the promoters to be unable to attract a title sponsor.

Jacklin had promised earlier in the year that Women’s World Champion would pocket a record £20,000 top prize, an increase of £7,500 from 2019, but instead the winner will receive £10,000.

The men’s prize fund suffered a devastating blow, with Wayne Warren receiving just £23,000 for his success, a 77 per cent reduction on what Glen Durrant took home for retaining the title 12 months ago.

In total, the men’s prize fund was down 58 per cent on last year with a total of £127,000, while the Ladies prize fund totalled £26,500.

In a response to a fan proposing that Warren should be offered a PDC Tour Card as reigning BDO World Champion, Hearn tweeted: ‘He withdrew from Q School so that’s impossible for him.

‘But I do feel so sorry for him – a disgraceful and shoddy way to be treated.

‘Those in power at the BDO should be ashamed of themselves and resign en bloc immediately as their credibility is zero.’

Jacklin had sent a letter to all County members in the early hours of Wednesday morning on behalf of the BDO board, which stated: “the last few weeks have been extremely difficult” and that “tough decisions had to be made.”

The board believed the World Championship to be a “success” despite just 15 per cent of tickets having been sold prior to the event – the first to be staged away from Lakeside in 33 years.

The letter went on to state that the BDO has parted company with its commercial advisors Sportotal in a move its hopes will free up a considerable amount of expenditure in 2020 to allow for investment.

Though a title sponsor could not be secured for the World Championship, Jacklin insists he is in talks with “several companies” for the coming year which could lead to extra televised events.

In an exclusive interview with Live Darts during the PDC World Championship, Hearn revealed conversations between the PDC and the World Darts Federation – the sport’s official governing body – had been taking place “for some time”.

The WDF announced in early December that it will no longer recognise BDO operated tournaments with immediate effect.

Hearn, who had a lucrative offer to buy out the BDO turned down over a decade ago, said: “I tried to hold the hand of friendship out to the BDO when I first took over the PDC and was rebuffed in a not very pleasant manner, which didn’t go down very well with me, but nevertheless that’s history.

“I made them an offer to take over, which was rebuffed, I saved myself a couple of million which in my world is still significant money, so I’m very grateful for that.

“Now we’re in the situation again where the amateur game needs a bit of guidance and clarity, I’m always happy to give my views and I’m happy to help.

“But there are certain rules of professionalism that I want to see in the amateur game before they get a penny of my money.

“The conversation with the WDF has been going on for some time, I think they’re more receptive now to some of my ideas than they were and who knows what the future will hold?

“We don’t want to kick a man while he’s down, that’s not really nice, so I want to see how the BDO Championships take place, I wish them well, I think they made a mistake moving away from Lakeside and I think their broadcast partners are not going to be happy with some of the product on display.

“That doesn’t mean to say there’s not a future for amateur darts because it is part of the bedrock of any sport – the grass roots.

“The amateur game has made a massive mistake trying to compete with us.

“Number one, they don’t have me heading it up so they have no chance whatsoever.

“Number two, they don’t have the money, number three they don’t have the TV broadcasters, sponsors or any commercial acumen whatsoever – they are f*cked.

“Don’t compete in a battle you can’t win.”