Whitlock “gutted” to miss out on Premier League place and slams “stupid” Contenders concept

Jamie Shaw in Darts Interviews 02 Dec 2019
Whitlock has spoken out in a raw and honest interview (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)
Simon Whitlock has revealed his disappointment at missing out on a place in the 2019 Premier League and has branded the Contenders idea as “stupid”.
Whitlock has featured in the Premier League on six occasions since 2010, notably finishing runner-up in 2012, but was left out of this year’s line-up despite being ranked inside the world top ten.
As a result of Gary Anderson’s late withdrawal through injury, nine invited players were chosen to appear on each of the opening nine nights and were branded ‘Contenders’.
Whitlock, who reached the European Championship final last season, believes Raymond van Barneveld’s decision to announce his retirement last November cost him a place in the sport’s elite invitational and fears he will never be given another opportunity.
“I thought I’d be in 100 per cent until Raymond [Van Barneveld] decided to say he’s going to retire and that probably cost me a spot,” Whitlock told Live Darts.
“It did hurt me and I am gutted I wasn’t in the Premier League because the year before, when I did play, I had pleurisy and that affected my whole tournament after four weeks.
“Forget that, I’m looking towards the future, I’ll probably never play Premier League again now because I’m 50 and they’re not looking for people my age anymore, that’s the way I look at it.
“I’m never giving up darts until I can’t actually throw darts.
“I love darts just as much as I did when I started 35 years ago.”
The Contenders concept, which saw Chris Dobey, Luke Humphries, John Henderson and Dimitri van den Bergh all hold Premier League opposition to a draw, was widely hailed as a success following initial scepticism, but Whitlock remains adamant that players should be handed places solely by virtue of their ranking.
He added: “I’ll be honest, I thought it [Contenders] was stupid, I didn’t think it worked at all.
“I think the Premier League should be the top ten in the rankings and that way you know what you’re playing for.
“Twice now I’ve been top ten and have been dumped from it.
“I’m being totally honest, I don’t think it’s the right way, you should earn your spot all day long for being in the top ten.”
Whitlock, who turned 50 in March, has now put his Premier League disappointment behind him, reaching the final of a European Tour event in April, as well as the Semi-Finals of the Brisbane Masters during a return to his homeland for the World Series.
The former world finalist, currently ranked world number 12, insists he has no plans to wind down his career and is confident he can make an impact in the crucial end of season run-in.
“I’m playing some really good darts right now, I’m practicing hard and hitting ton-plus averages,” he added.
“I’ve had a few injuries as well with my elbow but I’ve got plenty left in me, I ain’t giving up.”
Whitlock was also at the centre of the debate surrounding the current tournament dartboards and became embroiled in a war of words with the PDC’s official dartboard supplier Unicorn earlier this summer following suggestions his custom-made points damage the playing surface.
The Aussie number one, however, strongly defends his setup and feels he has been made a scapegoat, insisting: “My points do not damage the board. 
“I think it’s all the other players and they just use me because I’m creative and make my own points.
“They do not damage the boards, everyone can see that, so I look forward to the future.
“I’m making my own points out of allen keys and they sit in the board so pure, they’re so much better than a normal dart point and people will start to use my product when my company makes them.”