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World Championship 96-player field here to stay “for next two years at least” says Barry Hearn

Van Barneveld still “being considered” for the Premier League says Hearn

Jamie Shaw in Darts Interviews 02 Dec 2019
Hearn conducts a press conference (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)
PDC Chairman Barry Hearn has revealed Raymond van Barneveld is still in the running for a Premier League place in 2019 despite his shock early exit at the World Championship.
Dutch legend Van Barneveld saw his penultimate quest for a sixth world title brought to a crashing halt by world number 108 Darius Labanauskas at Alexandra Palace on Monday.
The defeat marked the end of a dismal year for the five-time World Champion which saw him fail to surpass the Last 16 stage of a major televised ranking tournament and drop out of the world’s top 16.
Crowd favourite Van Barneveld, who will retire from professional darts at the end of next season, is among the names being touted for a potential Premier League spot in his farewell campaign, and Hearn says his poor recent results may not necessarily impact the selection process.
“That’s a decision to take at the end of the World Championship,” said Hearn. “It’s probably too early to say.
“On the one hand, his performances have not been good enough to get in the Premier League, on the other hand, with his reputation and drawing power, he’s still there.
“He’s certainly being considered and that’s a decision we always leave right until the end.
“It’s a decision between us and Sky, they have two wildcard picks and I have four wildcard picks.”
The Unibet Premier League line-up, which features the world’s top four ranked players plus a further six wildcards, is traditionally announced by Hearn prior to the World Championship final on New Year’s Day.
Van Barneveld has been an ever-present in the sport’s most prestigious invitational since joining the PDC in 2006, and Hearn says the Dutchman’s stature alone could be enough to see him retain his place.
“It’s based on commercial value, the drawing power of someone and the TV demand, and Barney’s a big name,” he added.
“I’m sure he still wishes he was still in this competition to give himself a better shout.
“I think he’s had a career of glory but the dedication has to return because the kids he’s up against are dedicated.”