Barry Hearn reveals PDC set to ramp up Darts At Home concept to involve all tour-card holders, plus four-stage plan for tour to return to normality

BY ALEX MOSS

Barry Hearn has outlined the Professional Darts Corporation’s (PDC) four-stage plan which will start with all tour-card holders playing at-home competitions.

The PDC chairman, speaking to the Weekly Dartscast over the Easter weekend, revealed their Darts At Home concept will be expanded, with an announcement from the organisation to come this week.

The Coronavirus pandemic has hit the PDC calendar, like all other sports, with the last tournament to have been played, Players Championship 8, back on March 15, and a return date for the tour unknown.

“The last few weeks have been spent planning what’s possible and what’s not possible,” Hearn said. “This is going to go on, I think, for the next three or four weeks.

“There’s going to be an extension of the lockdown, I believe, before there is any chance of anything happening.

“We are looking at three or four stages. (Stage) One is behind closed doors, in as far as in your own house.

“The second stage is behind closed doors, as far as tournaments without a crowd, and the third (stage) is maybe limited crowds, but standard tournaments, before we go on to the utopia of (stage) four, which is back to normal.

“Estimates of how long that’s going to take vary. We’re seeing slowdowns in Spain and Italy. In a week’s time we should see a beginning of a slowdown in the UK, but don’t forget we’re a global sport now.

“It’s a question of, ‘ok, we can have Players Championship games behind closed doors, but we can’t if our membership can’t travel to play. It wouldn’t be fair, so that’s a big issue in terms of rankings, what’s going to happen with Q-School next year. There’s a 1,000 things which we can’t take a decision on yet, we’ve got to wait and see.”

The last two Wednesday nights the PDC have hosted Darts At Home tournaments, involving tour-card holders such as Nathan Aspinall, Stephen Bunting,and Chris Dobey. Players have contested matches against each other, and the action has been streamed online, with webcams on the players’ boards at home.

Hearn has teased an announcement is coming from the PDC this week, which will see the format be extended, with all 128 tour-card holders to be involved in some way.

“This week we’ll announce a major move on our in-house development,” he said. “We have a brilliant team of administrators who have been working on a master plan to involve the entire tour on a real extravaganza of darts.

“It will lack the atmosphere of a crowd, of course, and it will not be at the production level that we’re used to, but it will give us a regular supply.

“The announcement will be early this week. Watch this space and get ready to see a lot more darts.”

Listen to the full interview with PDC chairman Barry Hearn on the new episode of the Weekly Dartscast podcast via the player below

Picture: PDC

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