The BDO have confirmed that prize money for next month’s World Championship will be ‘reduced somewhat’, after failing to secure a title sponsor and selling just 15% of tickets after moving away from the Lakeside.
There has been mounting speculation over recent weeks regarding the British Darts Organisation’s future and Chairman Des Jacklin confirmed that the prize fund would be reduced in a letter distributed to players who have qualified for the event, which begins on Saturday January 4th.
Next month’s competition is set to be the 42nd staging of the BDO World Championship and the first at the Indigo at the O2, after their 33-year association with the Lakeside Country Club came to a close last year.
Nevertheless, Jacklin revealed that dismal ticket sales gave the directors no other option but to cut the prize fund, with just 15% of tickets currently sold for their flagship event, which has significantly affected their projected income.
“I am writing to you on behalf of the BDO Directors in order to convey some information that is extremely difficult for me to write and that will be undoubtedly disappointing for you to read,” Jacklin said.
“It concerns the level of prize monies for this year’s World Professional Championships, which we are, with great reluctance, having to reduce somewhat whilst still retaining a very lucrative incentive.
“The reasons for taking this decision is based purely on finance and the observance of our roles as BDO Directors to act in the best interests of the company which, as you will hopefully understand, has demanded consideration of the following;
“Our commercial advisors [Sportotal] have informed title or other sponsorship has been impossible to secure for the BDO World Pro due mainly to the adverse publicity that the BDO has received on various aspects of social media and that in their opinion the BDO is currently ‘toxic’.
“Ticket sales are currently only at a total of 15% of ticket availability and therefore the income is 85% down on the budget predictions. The TV contract income has been largely decimated by TV production costs and by payment of previous debts as incurred before the current directors were elected into office.”
“Given the current financial position of he BDO we as Directors would have been failing in our fiduciary duty had we ignored these elements and pledged as prize money the funds we do not have, nor are guaranteed to receive.”
Recent winners of the men’s event have received £100,000 in prize money and although the letter did not confirm exact figures, reports suggest that the 2020 champion will receive £50,000 – with the total prize fund slashed by 50%.
After Mikuru Suzuki secured £12,000 for her triumph last year, Jacklin vowed to increase the women’s prize fund in 2020, although the winner will now receive a paltry £8,000 – incredibly Sherrock secured £25,000 for reaching the third round at Alexandra Palace.
However, Jacklin suggested that the ‘toxicity’ referenced by Sportotal can be attributed to the negativity on social media and he claimed it is a significant factor in the BDO struggling to attract sponsorship.
“If used correctly then social media is the most effective means of communication that could have had a terrific impact on the advertising and promotion of the BDO World Professional Championship and its new iconic venue,” Jacklin continued.
“Unfortunately there are a few that see social media as a means to debase or destroy by intent and that is possibly why Sportotal have made those observations. It is a fact that the first task for every potential sponsor that receives an approach for assistance will be to check on the relevant social media platforms.”
“In reality Sportotal have, over the past 2 years taken almost £200,000 in payments from the BDO but have brought in no sponsorships which as a business policy is not sustainable.
“However, it can be confirmed that Sportotal have, as from 24th December 2019, given notice of cancellation for the contract pending settlement of monies they adjudge as remaining due.”
Jacklin, who was elected as BDO Chairman in August 2018, also urged the players, including the Queen of Alexandra Palace Fallon Sherrock, not to boycott the event and insisted that the directors were doing everything they could to ensure the tournament will be a success.
“It is perfectly understandable for you to feel that elements have conspired against you in this and through no fault of your own expectations for rewards have been lowered. This is equally felt by myself and the directors as we too have been unable to deliver what we promised.
“For this we feel sorry for each and every one of the players, especially as we were so looking forward to introducing an upgrade to the Ladies prize fund which has been deserved for so long but which for the moment is not possible.”
“The problems as highlighted have not prevented the BDO from pressing on relentlessly with ticket sales and talks with potential sponsors who do not entirely share the view of Sportotal on our ‘toxicity’. Eurosport have shown an interest in signing up to five more BDO events in 2020 which if substantial enough will benefit the BDO in general.
“As a player, you need to reflect on how you will react to this disappointing news. Regardless of the fact that we may not be able to guarantee the prize funds as first indicated… you will still be willing to honour the participation agreement and grace the BDO and audiences with your presence.”
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