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Chris Mason admits he fears for the future of the BDO amid “inept” management

Jamie Shaw in Darts Interviews 31 Oct 2019
Mason gives his honest assessment of the BDO’s current situation (credit:Live Darts)
Chris Mason has blasted the “inept” running of the BDO and admits he fears for the organisation’s future.
Mason, who reached the Semi-Finals of the BDO World Championship on two occasions, has heavily criticised the current hierarchy following a series of PR disasters in recent months.
The BDO’s mounting problems came to the fore during last week’s World Masters qualifiers, which had to be re-drawn amid rumours of fake names, no-shows and some international players having failed to pre-register.
A picture also circulated on social media appearing to show a contract that had been drawn up forbidding players to compete in December’s PDC World Championship should they qualify for either the World Masters or BDO World Championship.
BDO Chairman Des Jacklin was also said to have signalled his intention to resign following January’s World Championship, something he has since denied.
Mason, who now works as a pundit and commentator for ITV4, believes Jacklin’s lack of industry knowledge is a key factor towards the BDO’s constant struggle to attract crowds and sponsors.
Mason told Live Darts: “Des had all the great intentions, he’s a darts fan, he loves the BDO, but his background has nothing to do with this industry.
“Someone said ‘why don’t you do it?’ I can give advice and my knowledge and experience but I couldn’t run a bath.
“There’s no way I could cope with the pressure, but you need someone who can approach new brands, new sponsorship deals and venues have somebody that can go to meetings, but they’ve just never brought in anybody that can do it.
“I fear for their future, especially with what’s going on behind the scenes with independent promoters wanting to run events at Lakeside, that could be the nail in the coffin.
“What they should have done is taken Barry [Hearn’s] offer and take on the ethos of becoming the amateur side of the sport.”
Following the fiasco of the men’s qualifiers, the first World Masters to be held at the Circus Tavern produced sparse crowds, with just 80 tickets said to have been sold across the three days.
Mason added: “Again, it’s people who are inept. What is going on there?
“I played in that event ten or fifteen times, you get there the day before or in the morning, you register your names, all the names that are registered go in the draw, it’s not complicated.
“If you’re not there, that’s your fault. 
“There’s no confidence with the consumer with the BDO, which is why they can’t sell a ticket.
“Eighty tickets sold for three days of darts at one of the most famous venues in world darts at the Circus Tavern.
“I did an exhibition with Keith Deller and a few of the other lads and there was 550 people in there. What’s going on?
“There’s just no confidence in the brand so people aren’t going to buy a ticket – is it on or is it not?
“They announced The O2 but they didn’t have a deal signed, I wouldn’t but a ticket. It’s like buying a ticket for a fight if you don’t know it’s going to happen or not.
“It’s just inept, very simple, fundamental mistakes being made by those on the top table.
“My feelings go out to the players and us lot who were in that system years ago, although it was flawed, I don’t get this thing about ‘we owe them a favour’ – we made people a lot of money back then, we put bums on seats.
“I don’t owe anybody anything, no one threw darts for me, the BDO never sponsored me, they never paid me money – I earned my money and so did all the other players.”
The BDO announced earlier this year that it was to leave Lakeside after 33 years of staging the World Championship at the famous venue, with The Indigo at The O2 named as the new venue.
However, it is believed The O2 was only finalised in recent weeks, thus delaying tickets going on sale and creating uncertainty around their flagship event.
Though the event will be shown live on Eurosport, it is currently without a title sponsor, and Mason admits he feels sorry for the current crop of players.
“It’s an awful scenario for the players,” he added.
“I would guess they’re hoping they’re going to make enough money from ticket sales from The O2 and that a big sponsor will come in.
“I don’t believe they’re completely out of money yet but I know it’s close.
“For me, the World Masters should have been called off, World Trophy should have been called off, I know they’ve signed this three-year deal with Eurosport but I’m pretty sure if they’d have got hold of Eurosport and said ‘listen, this is what’s going on, we’re going to put all our eggs in one basket and really go for it with the Worlds’ and announced it a long time ago to give confidence in your brand and sell some tickets.
“Make it a party for the punters then they’ll buy a ticket, they don’t want to sit there knitting like it was in the 80s, it was boring, alright the darts were great but things change.
“They’ve got this thing about the PDC being a ‘circus’, well it’s a very rich circus, the players are playing for 15 million pounds next year, BDO players are playing for 16 quid if they’re lucky.”