Des Jacklin insists the British Darts Organisation have a positive future ahead despite the controversy that marred last week’s BDO World Championship at the Indigo at the O2.
Wayne Warren received just £23,000 for his World Championship triumph on Sunday – 77% less than last year’s winner Glen Durrant and £1,000 less than Phil Taylor pocketed for lifting his first of 16 world titles THIRTY years ago.
Jacklin announced ahead of the tournament that there would be a reduction to the prize fund due to disappointing ticket sales coupled with the inability to attract sponsorship, although players were left in the dark about how much they would receive for their exploits at the new venue.
However, the total prize fund was eventually revealed to players in a letter published late on Tuesday evening, where it was confirmed that Warren’s sum of £23,000 was the lowest winner’s prize since Jocky Wilson defeated Eric Bristow in the 1989 showpiece.
Alongside the champion’s prize and a £10,000 runners-up cheque, semi-finalists will earn £5,000, quarter-finalists will trouser £4,000, with those beaten in the last 16 and last 32 receiving £3,000 and £2,000 respectively. Meanwhile, preliminary round losers are entitled to a meagre £1,500.
In terms of the women’s prize pot, Anastasia Dobromyslova’s husband Tony Martin set up a GoFundMe page ahead of the event to support the women’s competition due to fears of minimal rewards and Mikuru Suzuki scooped £10,000 for retaining her title – £2,000 down on what she won last year.
In his letter that was leaked on social media, Jacklin thanked players for their patience and admitted it had been a tumultuous period for the organisation, although he insisted that there were reasons for optimism, claiming that he had established ‘important contacts for the future’.
“As you are aware the past few months have been difficult for the BDO with issues being faced that go back years. I am pleased to say that I now think we are in a far better position than we were this time last year,” Jacklin wrote.
“On December 24th I received an email from our commercial partners Sportotal who informed me that they had not brought the BDO any sponsorship in the last two years and that they were exercising their right to terminate their current agreement signed by the BDO board back in 2016.
“It was fortunate that I work 365 days of the year for the BDO as I could quite easily have not seen this email until after the Christmas period. I decided not to inform the other BDO directors as I did not want to upset their Christmas holidays.
“I waited until Friday 27th in which to inform them of the disappointing news. In that time, I managed to find several small sponsors for the World Professional Championships but also made many important contacts for the future.”
Jacklin added that the BDO directors were faced with the prospect of either lowering the prize fund or cancelling the competition for the first time since it’s inception in 1978, although he was enthused with the response and ‘support’ of the players.
“The BDO board found themselves in an awkward position with only two real choices, to either reduce the prize money or to cancel the event entirely, neither of which were attractive options. However, with all the plans that have been made for 2020 we had to make the decision to proceed with a lower prize fund.
“I believe that very few people would have been able to get £150,000 together in five days as a minimum prize fund, but that is what we did and I telephoned 43 of the 57 players that had qualified for the Worlds myself to explain that we had a £150,000 total prize fund that I could guarantee.
“The remaining 14 qualifying players were contacted by the other BDO directors. I also informed you all that anymore money raised through ticket sales, programme money and raffles etc at the O2 would also go into the prize fund.
“I have to say that I was extremely pleased that all of you agreed to the new terms and I was even happier with the support that you showed me, with only one lady player making the decision not to participate.”
The failure to obtain a title sponsor for the World Championship was a major factor in the dwindling prize fund and many fans criticised the production of the tournament, which was broadcast on Eurosport and Quest respectively.
In his previous letter distributed to players ahead of the World Championship, Jacklin attributed ‘toxicity’ on social media to the BDO’s struggle with securing sponsors, although the chairman revealed he’s due to hold talks with ‘several media companies’ over the coming weeks.
“There is some good news to come out of all of what we have faced over the past few weeks. I have been contacted by several media companies and sponsors who I am talking to over the next few weeks.
“The O2 were delighted with the competition and I have already had pre-negotiations for next year with an appointment already scheduled for the second week in February, with the view of going on sale by the end of March.
“I also have the choice of several promoters that have offered their services not just for the World Professional but also for the Masters and the World Darts Trophy. This is a position that the BDO have never been in before but is a place I have worked to get us to for the past 18 months.
“All the above has also made our position with Eurosport stronger. I have already spoken to them with regards to including our other events in a televised package and again have follow up meetings scheduled for February.”
Nevertheless, Jacklin’s positivity is not reciprocated by several BDO players who have publically spoken out in criticism of the regime over the last week, including former PDC World Championship finalist Andy Hamilton.
‘The Hammer’ conducted a candid interview with LiveDarts midway through the tournament and claimed: “He needs to stand up and come out and tell us all what’s happening or just disappear. The way the BDO is going at the moment, it’s going to fail. But for grassroots darts it can’t fail.”
Three-time women’s world champion Dobromyslova lamented the fact that her husband was forced to set up a fundraiser in a bid to salvage prize money for her fellow female participants, labelling the situation as ‘ridiculous’.
Jim Williams took to social media and admitted he felt ‘sick’ at walking away with just £10,000 for reaching his first World Championship final, whilst Dutchman Martijn Kleermaker launched a scathing attack on Jacklin in the Metro, insisting that the BDO chairman was a ‘fool’ who must resign.
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