Teenage sensation Leighton Bennett celebrates (credit:Taylor Lanning)
PDC Chairman Barry Hearn has urged the BDO to select all three of their reigning World Champions to compete in the 2019 Grand Slam of Darts.
BDO Chairman Des Jacklin is set for discussions with the PDC to put forward eight representatives to join the 24 PDC players in the sport’s cross-code show-piece in November.
The Grand Slam remains the only televised tournament to feature players from both codes despite becoming a PDC ranking event in 2015.
The 24 PDC players qualify through a set criteria which incorporates winners and runners-up from all televised tournaments, as well as European Tour winners and a series of additional qualifiers.
The BDO, meanwhile, has no set criteria for its contingent and has previously sent its’ three major champions plus the next five highest players from the Invitational Rankings.
Live Darts understands that reigning Ladies World Champion Mikuru Suzuki and Youth Champion Leighton Bennett are being considered for selection, and Hearn has called for the duo and reigning Men’s Champion Glen Durrant (now a PDC Tour Card holder) to be included.
“I think I would strongly recommend them to do exactly that,” said Hearn, speaking exclusively to Live Darts.
“I think the three [BDO] World Champions should be a shoo-in for the Grand Slam, so Glen [Durrant], Mikuru [Suzuki] and Leighton [Bennett].
“I think they add to the Grand Slam and they’re there on merit so I would be more than disappointed if they weren’t on the invitation list.”
Questions have been raised in response to the rumours of Bennett’s inclusion, with the 13-year-old currently too young to compete on the PDC Development Tour.
Bennett is a three-time semi-finalist on the BDO circuit this season and has notably beaten 16-time World Champion Phil Taylor in a high profile exhibition match.
Hearn is confident that the appropriate measures would be taken to enable Bennett’s involvement but says there is no rush to fast-track him into the big time.
“I don’t think it needs to be ‘gotten round’,” he added. “I think we’ve just got to be aware that we’ve got to make sure it’s a level playing field for everyone.
“Obviously the young man is a great talent but there are other great talents out there as well, so you have to be consistent.
“On things like the Grand Slam where you’ve earned the right, it’s an entirely different thing than say ‘should he be allowed to play in Challenge Tour and Development Tour matches?’
“That’s an issue we’ve got to resolve, but in today’s world you’ve got to be very careful on child protection and things like that.
“There is no rush for a great talent and Leighton seems to be a great talent, so my advice to him is just ‘keep your head down, keep knocking on the door and play the best you can and enjoy yourself’ because darts is a long career.
“You’ve got players in their fifties still competitive and that’s good for any youngster coming in because they can plan their career around darts, not just as a quick flash in the pan.
“It’s a consistent time where you can change your life.”
The BDO’s eight-player contingent for the Grand Slam is expected to be confirmed by early October, with the main event taking place at the Aldersley Leisure Village from November 9-17.