EXCLUSIVE: Barry Hearn is ‘reasonably optimistic’ of 1,000 fans being allowed in per session for the PDC World Championship at Alexandra Palace next month

PDC chairman Barry Hearn says he is ‘reasonably optimistic’ that fans will be allowed in at Alexandra Palace for the upcoming PDC World Championship, which starts next month.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced all of the PDC’s televised events in the UK to be held behind closed doors since March. However, with England set to exit its second lockdown and move into a tiered system next week, hopes have been raised of a limited-capacity crowd being allowed in for the biggest tournament on the darts calendar.

On Monday, the PDC confirmed the dates for their World Championship at the end of this season, running from December 15 to January 3, and also that Alexandra Palace would once again host the event.

Speaking in an exclusive interview to the Weekly Dartscast earlier today, Hearn revealed that talks are currently ongoing in a bid to possibly include 1,000 spectators per session for their flagship tournament next month.

“I think we’ve cleared the government hurdle,” Hearn said. “In principle we’re allowed 1,000 fans a session, provided that certain criteria is met, which we’re quite experienced in meeting.

“The ongoing conversation is with the local public authorities, because we need their consent and agreement as well. I’m reasonably optimistic that will be forthcoming.

“There will be caveats and conditions to be met. Conversations are ongoing with Matt Porter (PDC chief executive) and his team, and we anticipate an announcement on Monday.

“This world changes every day and the next government review is on the 16th of December, a day after the World Championship starts.

“We will be led by the government and follow their rules and do what we can do. I’m optimistic, and I know how much it means to darts fans and the players.

“It’s one of the big sporting events of the winter and we’ll do the very best to put on the best show we can do. We’re making every effort to have crowds at Alexandra Palace, even in what is relatively short notice.”

Listen to the full interview with PDC chairman Barry Hearn via the player below or on all good podcast providers

Picture: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

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