Bennett has stormed into the BDO’s top 32 (credit:Taylor Lanning)
Reigning BDO World Youth Champion Leighton Bennett will miss out on the 2019 Grand Slam of Darts after the eight BDO representatives were announced on Thursday.
The 13-year-old, who has taken the darting world by storm this year, had been widely touted for a debut appearance in the sport’s elite cross-code major this November.
However, the current BDO world number 21 is not among the eight BDO players heading to the Aldersley Leisure Village next month following a ‘unanimous’ decision over his participation.
It is understood discussions were held between the BDO, the PDC and Bennett’s management and the decision was agreed due to concerns over ‘safeguarding’ the teenager – who would have become the youngest player ever to compete in a senior televised darts tournament.
Speaking exclusively to Live Darts during last week’s World Grand Prix, PDC Chief Executive Matthew Porter said: “Safeguarding is a big issue.
“We’ve spoken at length to appropriate people about things to do with that, we’ve spoken to Leighton’s management and people close to Leighton and a decision has been made over Leighton’s participation which everybody is in 100 per cent agreement with.
“Safeguarding is the single most important issue.
“You put a 13-year-old into a professional, adult sporting environment, there are challenges that that will throw up so you have to deal with that in the most appropriate manner, primarily for the boy and secondly for the event.”
Bennett has reached four senior BDO Semi-Finals this year, while also defeating Phil Taylor in a high-profile exhibition match, and will make his debut in a televised major in January’s World Championship at the O2 Indigo in London.
Glen Durrant will represent the BDO at the Grand Slam as reigning World Champion, while reigning Ladies Champion Mikuru Suzuki and four-time Ladies Champion Lisa Ashton make their debuts.
World Trophy winner Jim Williams, Richard Veenstra, Dave Parletti and Wayne Warren make up the remaining BDO representatives.