Earlier this week Raymond van Barneveld announced that next year will be his final one as a professional.
The Dutchman’s decision to call it a day at the end of the 2019-20 season was not a big shock. The last few years have seen the 51-year-old scale back on his playing commitments, particularly in ranking events.
The upcoming World Championship will be Barney’s 14th ranking event of the season – a figure which he doubled as far back as 2014 (29 events) and 2013 (33).
At 51, and with his great rival Phil Taylor, also in his fifties, having retired from the professional circuit at the end of last season, retirement has come closer into the eye line of van Barneveld in these last 12 months.
Taylor had the fairy tale ‘one last major win’ with his beloved World Matchplay success in July last year, before enjoying a run to the final of his last tournament, the World Championship. But what will Barney’s final season envisage?
“Next year is going to be my 35th year of playing darts at the highest level and it’s going to be my last year,” van Barneveld said.
“I noticed in myself that I can’t keep up anymore, I know what I can do but it’s just not been happening for the past three or four years apart from winning the World Cup with Michael (van Gerwen).
“I’m not winning tournaments anymore, I don’t know why but a lot of things have happened in my private life and I’ve also noticed that my body isn’t feeling 100 per cent anymore – I don’t have the drive, motivation or fitness to carry on.
“I’m a winner, that’s what I do – I lift trophies but I can’t do it anymore. Maybe there are still a couple of titles left in me and that would be amazing but I can’t do this every week anymore.
“I don’t want my career to fizzle out which is why I’ve made the decision to retire at the end of next year.”
Talk has already begun, in earnest, about who will make up the 10-player line up for the Premier League next year. Some have questioned whether Barney’s retirement announcement was a ploy to secure his spot in the field for 2019.
The Premier League is a money spinner for the PDC. Four months of packed out venues around the UK and Europe, and a Barney Farewell Tour would attract plenty of attention.
It may well come down to whether Barney wants to be in the Premier League. It’s his final year on the circuit and to commit to the Premier League, with the travelling and everything else that comes with it is a lot of commitment for just the one tournament, which is arguably one of the toughest to win with the players included.
He wants to win trophies, that’s what he has said and his best chance of doing so could be to focus more on the Pro Tour next year.