Mardle calls for Van Barneveld inclusion in the 2019 Premier League

Mardle has launched a passionate defence of Barney (credit:Live Darts)

Wayne Mardle believes the PDC and Sky Sports would be “missing out on a major opportunity” if they were to omit Raymond van Barneveld from the Premier League line-up in 2019.

Van Barneveld will retire from professional darts at the end of the 2019/20 season, leaving him just one more potential Unibet Premier League campaign.

The Dutch legend has featured in every Premier League since joining the PDC in 2006, and one final appearance would see him become the most experienced player in the history of the competition, eclipsing Phil Taylor's total of 13 appearances.

The five-time World Champion, however, recently dropped out of the world's top 16 and has failed to surpass the Last 16 stage of a major ranking tournament in 2018, leaving many to doubt his inclusion in the elite 16-week invitational.

Sky Sports pundit Mardle, who featured consecutively in the Premier League between 2005 and 2009, believes Barney deserves a wildcard spot regardless of his lack of success in TV majors this season.

"I couldn't care less about messages," Mardle told Live Darts.

"It's about putting bums on seats, it's about selling out arenas.

"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."

The 2019 Unibet Premier League will tour across the UK, Ireland and Europe between February and May, including a double-header in Van Barneveld's native Rotterdam.

Mardle insists RVB's current ranking position is unreflective of his ability and that the 51-year-old's achievements should be recognised by handing him a farewell stint in the competition.

He added: "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.

"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'm from back in the day, I like the way everyone else thinks but I just don't agree that there's players that sell seats like him.

"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.

"Also, 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.

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



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Mardle calls for Van Barneveld inclusion in the 2019 Premier League

Wayne Mardle believes the PDC and Sky Sports would be “missing out on a major opportunity” if they were to omit Raymond van Barneveld from the Premier League line-up in 2019.

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