Three-time Lakeside World Championship finalist Tony O’Shea has blasted ‘ridiculous’ eligibility rules imposed by the BDO, due to the restrictions placed on those who have switched codes to compete in the recent PDC Qualifying School.
O’Shea has competed within the BDO system for over 22 years, but he was a surprise entrant at this year’s PDC Qualifying School in Wigan, having missed out on qualification for the Lakeside World Championship for the first time since 2001.
‘The Silverback’ was unable to secure a PDC Tour Card, amassing two points across a gruelling four-days of qualification. Nevertheless, because he did not feature at the Lakeside in 2018, he is eligible to compete on both the PDC Challenge Tour and the BDO circuits throughout the year.
However, O’Shea was one of several BDO stars who attempted to secure a coveted PDC Tour Card at Q-School, and a number of his colleagues who failed to claim a spot on the professional PDC circuit will be unable to compete in the 2019 Lakeside World Championship next January, due to eligibility rules imposed by the BDO.
O’Shea’s fellow Stockport star Darryl Fitton, Scottish Open winner Cameron Menzies and Jamie Hughes, seeded third at this year’s Lakeside, all of whom were unable to clinch a Tour Card, are therefore set to miss out on next year’s tournament.
Speaking in a Facebook Live interview with David Fatum, who also competed at this year’s Qualifying School, O’Shea labelled the restrictions placed on the BDO switchers as ‘ridiculous’ and ‘stupid’.
“For me personally, it’s a perfect storm because I can just drop back in (to the BDO). Our seasons overlap, the BDO season starts in October. I won the Turkish Open and played really good at the World Masters and Jersey so I’m actually really high up in the rankings.”
“Unfortunately, Darryl Fitton, Jamie Hughes and one or two others, they’re going to get a ban. Those rules are stupid- those guys cannot now play on the tour for Lakeside 2019, which needs looking at,” he claimed.
The 56-year-old admits he will exploit the luxury of being able to compete on both darting circuits in 2018, but he also lamented the fact that the same opportunity was not available for his BDO colleagues.
“For me personally, this was a no-brainer, I came here and enjoyed myself, I’ve actually played really well. Luckily I wasn’t in the Lakeside this year, I had a big operation on my knee and I had four months out. But that means this year I can come over with no penalties, I can drop back in because I had a good start, but I can also play Challenge Tour.
“Obviously for Darryl (Fitton) and a few of the other boys, it’s frustrating that they’re great dart players and they could be penalised with stupid rules within the BDO that they’ve come to Q-School and aren’t allowed to drop back into the BDO- it’s crazy.”
“Maybe Darryl has the option for a bit of soft-tip, which would be nice, but that might be his only option and that’s ridiculous. Maybe I’m coming towards the end of my career, I don’t know, but what am I going to do at my age apart from play darts? I’m just happy to still be there and be competitive,” O’Shea added.
Despite this, O’Shea isn’t the only BDO star who has the option of competing on both the Challenge Tour and BDO circuits this year. Jeff Smith- a Lakeside finalist back in 2016, missed out on a Tour Card in Wigan but is expected to compete on both circuits, whilst Martin Atkins could potentially return to the BDO after also missing the cut.
The pre-tournament contractual obligations surrounding Lakeside have caused considerable controversy over recent years, particularly involving reigning two-time BDO World Champion Glen Durrant.
‘Duzza’ had been heavily linked with a switch to the PDC for the previous two years, but having progressed beyond the quarter-finals at Frimley Green in each of the last two World Championships, the Teessider would have been forced to forfeit his prize-money he earned at Lakeside if he was intent on switching to the PDC.
Photo Credit: David Gill