Wednesday 23 September 2020

Darts needs to unite to save the sport

There's quite a list of organisations on the list of signatories to that letter, over 100. These include individuals from massive sporting bodies such as England Lacrosse, Pentathlon GB (I assume the multi sport body, not the flight manufacturer), UK Ultimate, Rounders England, "Parkour" and Goalball UK.

Not one signatory from the world of darts. Now I know that obviously the grass roots game is in somewhat of a state of flux right now with the BDO going busto and there being several competing forces, but would it really have been that hard for Colin Savage of the UKDA, Steve Brown or anyone from MAD, any of the individual home nations, ANYONE, to put their name to the letter? Would necessarily have expected Hearn or Porter, as the letter is more seeming to be worried about the nature of grass roots play than anything else, but if we have no grass roots, how does the PDC expect anyone from the UK to make their way into the professional game? I doubt anyone is going to suddenly just rock up to the Development Tour as the first thing they ever do outside of playing in their basement.

Boris Johnson's dictatorship continues to lurch from disaster to disaster, fuelled by a complete lack of numeracy, intelligence, or simple ability to say sorry and admit their massive failures. The latest set of measures (which, clear to anyone with the slightest bit of ability to read the data, will do nothing whatsoever to limit the "pandemic") will particularly hit darts - I would not be in the slightest bit surprised if plenty of pubs, which weren't exactly the safest area of business in terms of stability even before Covid, will go bust by the end of the year. We'll lose places to play, and we'll likely lose leagues simply because they will be unable to operate in the current climate.

What is worse is the possibility of the return of spectators, or lack of it. Johnson's completely unnecessary paranoia and inability to stop digging the enormous hole he is in has made the likelihood of the worlds appearing without fans seem almost a certainty. This is worrying given that Matt Porter, per dartsnews less than a week ago, stated that the worlds would be held at Ally Pally as standard regardless of what fans they could hold, and the concept of being able to hold it there without running at a massive loss seemed at best hubris and worst ridiculous before Boris continued his descent into a Father Jack-level of madness. Sure, Matchroom state that they're in a good spot financially, but there is only so long that they can continue to keep playing behind closed doors without going broke. There's little indication that, barring either our MP's growing a spine and either not renewing the Coronavirus Act next week, Starmer growing a spine and calling for a vote of no confidence in the Government (which wouldn't even be a good idea from our point of view, despite being a human rights lawyer back in the day, Starmer is completely fine with the continual removal of civil liberties here and would probably go further than the Tories have), or mass civil disobedience, anything will change until after the UK Open.

Hence, Porter needs to retract that statement, and indicate what he thinks about the UK's ability to host sporting events by moving the worlds. They simply have to move it out of the country and send a statement that we need fans to return. There are plenty of places that could host it. We've seen a successful event with fans in Austria last weekend. We're seeing the European Tour return this weekend in Germany. The Netherlands should be able to work. Sweden, while not a darts hotbed, is increasing its limits on spectators for events and they could certainly host an event of this kind and it would send a very political statement about what needs to be done. There's probably other places where this could work - Hungary's open for 20,000 fans to attend the UEFA Super Cup final in a couple of days.

I think we all want the event to be played at Ally Pally, but there's probably more chance of me winning the event than there is of me going to watch the event there this year. Sport is nothing without fans, we've all accepted that some of the lesser events could operate behind closed doors, we've just lost the PC Finals as well, but this is the world championship. THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP. There has to be an audience.

Aside from that note, I'm very excited about the next few days - we've got the return of the Euro Tour (also good to see that there are now two more events actually timetabled for late October, tempted to see what the ticketing situation is given I've got a coupon following the World Cup cancellation), we've got the return of the Development Tour with six (six!) events, and we've also got action from the CDC as North America returns to live action, Canada this weekend and the USA the next. Everywhere's starting to get back to normal, except here. Expect prediction/betting posts for the Euro Tour tomorrow evening, I'm not doing anything.

Oh, and Barney's unretired again, probably only to retire straight after Q-School. One can only hope he's not gone completely broke from lack of exhibitions.

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