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BDO players to remain in the Grand Slam as Barry Hearn insists “our door is always open”

Jamie Shaw in Grand Slam of Darts 02 Dec 2019
Hearn has his say on the current BDO situation (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)
PDC Chairman Barry Hearn says there are no plans to reduce the BDO’s allocation of players in the Grand Slam of Darts and reveals the PDC are willing to help the BDO move forward.
The Grand Slam is the sport’s premier cross-code event featuring 24 players from the PDC and eight from the BDO competing in a round-robin and knock-out format each November.
 
The tournament has been an annual fixture on the calendar since 2007 and remains the only TV major to feature players from both sides of the darting divide.
Given the recent uncertainty surrounding the future of the BDO, speculation had been growing as to whether the PDC may opt to reduce or even end the BDO’s allocation of players in the event – which has been classified as a PDC ranked tournament since 2015.
Hearn, however, has confirmed that the BDO’s eight places will be retained in 2019 and says there are no plans to amend the criteria in the near future.
“Our door is always open to see how we can help and what we can do,” said Hearn.
“The Grand Slam is a prime example, Matt [Porter] will be talking to Des [Jacklin] this week to sort out their eight players and we have no plans to reduce that at this stage but we have to wait and see how their part of the game develops.
“What their relevance is going to be over the next few years is something we’re going to have to wait and see.
“We have to see what they do with their TV contracts and tournaments.
“That’s going to be the issue is how can they finance something that will be meaningful for their players within their business model?
“They’re not up against us, they’re not competition to us, I think we can live in harmony and I think there’s a role for both of us.”
The BDO is in the midst of a transitional period under Chairman Des Jacklin, with the Finder Masters having been removed from the calendar and the World Trophy narrowly saved with just over a month to spare.
Venues are yet to be confirmed for both the World Masters in October and the World Championship in January, while Master of Ceremonies Richard Ashdown announced his shock resignation last week.
Hearn, who lodged a £1 million buyout offer for the BDO a decade ago, admits he is wary of the uncertainty surrounding the organisation’s future and believes the ‘amateur’ game still plays a crucial role.
“I think from a quality point of view, like with Boxing, all you can do is beat the man in front of you,” he added.
“The winner of any BDO event is a good winner because he’s beaten what’s in front of him.
“The doubts that are going on over the BDO’s future is something that worries me.
“I think we need the BDO, we need amateurs, and it is amateur, there’s no doubt.”
Last August, Jacklin and the new BDO board removed restrictions surrounding BDO players who entered PDC Qualifying School, which led to an exodus which saw likes of Glen Durrant, Mark McGeeney and Scott Baker gain Tour Cards.
Durrant has since gone on to win two PDC ranking titles in his first six months as a Tour Card holder as well as qualifying for the World Matchplay, and Hearn admits ‘Duzza’ is a prime example of the PDC’s system of equal opportunity.
He added: “Glen Durrant has done fabulously well this year, but let’s be honest, he was on the very last knockings at Q School where he almost didn’t get his card.
“Glen turned round to me today and said “I’m so grateful of having this opportunity” and I said “well you’ve earned the opportunities.
“The PDC has got no barriers.
“I think the BDO will have a continual problem of credibility without cash.
“It’s very difficult when you try to encourage players who are playing for peanuts for getting to the Last 16 or Last Eight because we’ve all got to earn a living.
“If you’re going to be a social darts player, I understand that there’s a level where you’ll never reach your full potential unless you’re full time, but to be full time you’ve got to be able to earn money because you’ve got a family to feed, so it’s a catch 22 situation.
“It’s resolvable in the PDC but it’s tough to get your Tour Card.”