Barry Hearn pictured with the Sid Waddell Trophy (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)
PDC Chairman Barry Hearn admits he is “glad” the BDO declined the lucrative takeover offer he submitted almost a decade ago.
Hearn lodged a buyout offer of £1 million plus a further £1 million to be invested into grass roots darts in late 2009, but BDO county delegates instructed their governing body to reject the bid.
At the time, it was believed the BDO made an annual profit of just £16,000, while the PDC made an estimated £1m profit with a turnover of £9m.
Prize money in PDC events rose to a record £11.7m in 2017, almost five times the sum of 2006, while the 2018/19 World Championship will offer a huge £2.5m prize fund, with £500,000 on offer to the winner.
The BDO World Championship, for which a venue and TV deal are still be confirmed for 2019, offers a total prize fund of £339,000 and Hearn believes its ‘professional’ title should be removed.
“The sadness for me has always been that the Lakeside is being called the World Professional Darts Championship,” said Hearn.
“I think that’s disrespectful to punters.
“That’s the only reason I tried to buy them really, I just wanted to make sure I owned that title!
“I was hearing some bad stories about last week [World Darts Trophy] that there were only 50 people in the crowd.
“I heard it was eight thousand pounds to the winner. I just don’t know what you do.
“I’m just so glad I didn’t give them two million quid because it would have been a terrible waste of money.”
On Monday, it was announced that the PDC World Championship field is to be expanded from 72 to 96 players, including two guaranteed Ladies qualifiers.
The UK and Rest of the World Ladies’ qualifying events, to be held later in the year, are open to all female players and Hearn hopes the opportunity will inspire more women to participate in the sport.
He added: “I still can’t believe there’s a reason why they’re not good enough to be up there.
“The only thing I can come back to is, either lack of dedication on their part or lack of opportunity on our part.
“The critics will say it’s an opportunity once a year, we’ve got the amateur circuit but we can’t fast track because we have a system in place in the same way respected tours like golf do.
“There’s Q School, and as harsh as it may sound, if you’re not good enough, you don’t deserve to be there.”
Gayl King (2001) and Anastasia Dobromyslova (2009) are the only women to have competed in a PDC World Championship to date, while the PDC’s inaugural Women’s World Championship was won by Stacy Bromberg in 2010.
The two qualifiers are guaranteed at least £7,500 in prize money, rising to £15,000 if they reach the Second Round.
Currently, the BDO Women’s World Champion receives £12,000 and the BDO are yet to confirm whether or not the two successful PDC qualifiers will be elible to compete in the BDO World Chmpionship.
Hearn admits that while the lure of a place at Ally Pally remains a one-off opportunity, he must maintain a level playing field and is unwilling to hand out any wildcards to compete on the main PDC tour.
“They’ve got to do it on a consistent basis and that’s where they seem to have let themselves down,” he added.
“Also, the truth is, how much do they want it?
“We find ourselves politically saying: “we should be more helpful” but we rely on women being willing to take that opportunity as well.
“You can’t just give them a Tour Card because that’s disrespectful to the men and kids that struggle.
“There’s a lot of 16-22 year-olds on the Development Tour who could probably hold their own on the main tour already, which is fascinating.
“It has to be a level playing field for everybody and if people rise to the challenge and do it then good luck to them wherever they come from and whatever sex they are.”