With under seven days to go until the Summer Series gets underway, the anticipation surrounding the sport’s get back continues to construct, yet PDC chairman Barry Hearn insists he has only scratched the darting surface.
The 72-year-old recently suffered a heart attack, however it will come very little surprise that his health scare have not detracted from his insatiable desire to innovate and develop the darting landscape.
Hearn is renowned to be one of the nation’s leading sports promoters, having played an instrumental role in the growth of boxing, darts and snooker throughout an illustrious career.
He recently featured in a Darts Show Podcast special reflecting on his life in sport and with the sport’s get back edging closer ahead of the impending Summer Series, he believes darts’ potential is limitless.
“Financially it was a great buy, but more importantly, the fun I’ve had out of it – the joy I’ve had watching it grow. I honestly think I’ve only just scratched the surface, I really do,” Hearn said.
“Give me another 10 years and I think we can do something quite remarkable, because here is a sport that anyone can play. There are no barriers to entry.”
“You can stick a dartboard up in your bedroom, you are able to stick a dartboard up in your garage, but there’s a structure in place where you are able to join developmental tours, you can view whether you intend to play.
“Once the amateur organisation gets better organised, then we will have the complete picture there. It’s a game that can spread all over the world and it should do and it will do.”
The global nature of world darts is rolling out beyond all comprehension since Hearn took the reigns in 2001, with the flourishing European Tour, Asian Tour and World Series circuit testament to this growth.
The increasingly diverse demographic within the PDC was also evidenced throughout the Home Tour, which saw 101 Tour Card holders competing from their respective areas across the globe.
There were 11 nations represented in the last 32, with players from Australia, Canada, Spain, Belgium, Germany, Sweden plus Portugal joining the traditional darting hotbeds of England, Scotland, Wales and the Netherlands.
Hong Kong’s Kai Fan Leung also was seen in the event, participating in at 5am local as well as providing one more demonstration of the sport’s growing reputation in Asia – a new continent which usually Hearn pinpoints as delivering a ‘huge opportunity’.
“We have always been prepared to invest in things we believe in. The Asian Tour has started and gone well – Asia represents a huge opportunity to us,” additional the 72-year-old.
“Darts is 1 of the approved countrywide sports within China, if this takes off such as Snooker performed, we have an enormous business merely there only.
“Everywhere we go, people always say: ‘Wow, I never realised it was that good’. If we can spread the actual infrastructure of people participating in the game, we get the benefits of both participation and TV ratings and it’s very difficult for it not to be a success.”
Success is certainly a new cornerstone of Hearn’s language. Just a few months after overtaking as PDC Chairman, the tournament reward fund regarding the 2001 World Championship was £125,000, together with £33,000 on offer regarding the champ.
By comparison, the prize finance for final year’s World Championship totalled £2,500,000, together with eventual champ Peter Wright scooping a wonderful £500,000 for their maiden Alexandra Palace success.
This growth is also shown in regards to the Premier League – the sport’s greatest roadshow. The inaugural celebration was managed at Kings Hall within Stoke-on-Trent back 2005, by hundred enthusiasts in work.
“As we change the perception that it is not a pub game, it’s a proper global sport – with our numbers and the ratings globally, we can be bigger than golf. Why not?”
Hearn on darts’ potential
The competition is today a trend across Europe, with yearly visits in order to Rotterdam plus Berlin plus crowds excessively of 10,000 individuals. However, Hearn insists presently there is nonetheless more in the future.
“As we change the perception that it is not a pub game, it’s a proper global sport – with our numbers and the ratings globally, we can be bigger than golf. Why not?” Hearn continuing.
“We’re up to regarding £15m in order to £16m per year in terms of prize funds, we’re nonetheless nothing compared to golf. Why is that whenever our amounts are so significantly bigger?
“The response is understanding, a little bit of snob benefit perhaps. Those days will be changing, plus the millennial audience nowadays will increase that switch.
“People will tell you: ‘This is a great day trip, I’m having value for money plus watching world class sport’. Then you’re within the fast-lane and anything at all can happen.
“I feel really enthusiastic about the potential future of darts. I think the world is our oyster and we are merely going to be tied to our own creativity.”
Darts returns in order to Sky Sports in July, with nine days of coverage from the World Matchplay getting underway on Saturday, July 18, every day right up until the last on Sunday, July 26