Hearn urges ‘disgraceful’ BDO board to resign

PDC Chairman Barry Hearn has urged the current BDO board of directors to ‘resign en bloc immediately’ following their controversial treatment of players at the recent BDO World Championship.

The BDO ended their 33-year association with Lakeside Country Club earlier this year and the flagship competition took place at the Indigo – a complex within London’s O2 Arena. Nevertheless, the tournament was marred by controversy, with players unaware what they were competing for.

Just days before the tournament was due to begin, BDO chairman Des Jacklin wrote to players to confirm that prize money would be ‘somewhat reduced’ amid the failure to secure a title sponsor coupled with dismal ticket sales.

It was estimated that just 15% of tickets were sold for the tournament in the capital and Jacklin refused to provide a definitive prize fund breakdown, attributing the organisation’s struggle to attract a title sponsor on social media ‘toxicity’.

Earlier in the year, Jacklin insisted that the 2020 women’s world champion would trouser a record £20,000, with Mikuru Suzuki scooping £12,000 in 2019. Nevertheless, Suzuki is now set to receive a modest £10,000 for retaining her title, with the women’s prize pot cut by approximately 9%.

Nevertheless, the men’s prize fund has been decimated by an incredible 57.6%, with Wayne Warren set to earn just £23,000 for becoming the oldest world darts champion. Glen Durrant pocketed £100,000 for winning last year’s crown and Warren’s sum marks the lowest winner’s prize since 1989.

The 57-year-old Welshman was on the prospective list of entrants for PDC Qualifying School although he opted to withdraw from the four-day event in Wigan, with his partner Nicola O’Donovan citing the prize money scandal as a major factor in his decision on BBC Wales Today.

One fan tweeted Hearn and urged him to offer Warren a PDC Tour Card as reigning BDO world champion, a suggestion which was rebuffed by the PDC Chairman. However, 71-year-old Hearn expressed his sympathy for ‘The Yank’ and insisted that the BDO board should be ‘ashamed’ of their conduct.

“He withdrew from Q School so that’s impossible for him. But I do feel so sorry for him – a disgraceful and shoddy way to be treated. Those in power at the BDO should be ashamed of themselves and resign en bloc immediately as their credibility is zero,” Hearn tweeted.

Despite the scathing criticism from Hearn, in a letter released to all County members in the early hours of Wednesday morning, Jacklin insisted that the World Championship was a ‘success’ – claiming that the BDO were in a much better place than at this time last year.

The letter explained that the BDO’s commercial advisers Sportotal had terminated their contract which Jacklin believes will allow for greater investment, as he revealed he is in talks with ‘several companies’ ahead of the 2020 season, which could lead to additional televised events.

Despite this, the organisation remains blighted by uncertainty, with Hearn admitting at Alexandra Palace last month that conversations between the PDC and the World Darts Federation – the sport’s official governing body – had been taking place “for some time”.

In December, the World Darts Federation issued a statement affirming that it “will not recognise BDO operated tournaments”, citing a clear breach of rules and extraordinary draw changes which occurred at the 2019 World Masters.

On Friday, the WDF outlined changes to their calendar for 2020, revealing plans for two new major tournaments and a revised ranking system, providing male, female and youth players with the opportunity of representing their country across the globe.

It was confirmed that a multi-board ‘World Masters’ style major will be launched within the the next 12 months, along with an end of season ‘World Championship’ style finale. These plans also include a dozen ‘gold category’ events, with the pledge of more tournaments to come.

Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

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