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PDC chairman Eddie Hearn talks about a potential women’s world championship, Fallon Sherrock in next year’s Premier League; he is even considering taking the roadshow to New York’s Madison Square Garden
Last Updated: 09/12/21 1:55pm
PDC chairman Eddie Hearn says a women’s world championship as well as a Premier League night in New York is well within the realms of possibility.
The Women’s Series is set to expand from 12 events to 20 in 2022, with £5,000 of prize money available per event.
And Hearn is hoping to build on the success of Fallon Sherrock and Lisa Ashton, with the potential of a future PDC Women’s World Darts Championship a more than realistic ambition.
“It all depends on the participation numbers and also the quality. Broadcasters and fans will want to watch – it can’t be a gimmick,” Hearn told Sky Sports. “It has to be of a high level.
“The way you produce that level is to provide a consistent schedule to help people improve, grow and develop. I think a World Championship as a stand-alone event will work hand-in-hand.
“But right now you have the argument that there is a female player competing against the men. Is that the route you go? You have to play at a certain level and the hope is to produce more Fallon Sherrocks.”
With Sherrock currently blazing a trail for women’s darts players, Hearn believes ‘The Queen of the Palace’ has every chance of earning a spot in next year’s Premier League.
He said: “Right now, Fallon is the flagbearer for the growth and development of women’s darts because she has the profile to inspire a new generation of women’s darts players and she is one of, if not, the main reason why that investment has come from the PDC.
“All of a sudden we see the potential for that growth and whenever we talk about the growth of a sport it always comes through an individual, an ambassador, or a role model. If you’re going to get growth at a younger level across females in darts, she’s the kind of person that’s going to inspire that.
“When she broke through at the Worlds in 2019 you wondered whether it would be a one-off, but she’s proved it’s not. For me, with a commercial hat on, she has to be considered for the Premier League.
“Fans will want her in, broadcasters will want her in, but there is a real feeling from the PDC board that the Premier League is an event that rewards players for performances and consistency over the period and we’re starting to now see that consistency from Fallon Sherrock.
“You cannot ignore the profile and the noise it creates for darts. She’s been an unbelievable blessing for the sport.”
The Premier League roadshow has been all around UK shores and is now a machine, with Rotterdam and Berlin among its regular visits to mainland Europe.
But Hearn has bigger plans for the tournament, which is increasing its prize fund to a cool £1 million next year, and can see it making a splash stateside in the future.
The World Series of Darts will be used as a testing ground for potential expansion of the Premier League.
“I’m not saying that darts in the US has huge potential but as a focal point when we talk about getting that respect as a major global sport, we will fill up the theatre at Madison Square Garden and the Americans will not believe what they see,” said Hearn.
“The plan for us is to continue that expansion. I think the European stops have worked tremendously well for the Premier League and I was baffled by the crowd numbers, especially with the back-to-back events we had to cover in the Premier League.
“Darts has become a true global sport and the Premier League is one of the flagship events that will have appeal and demand to stage in major cities, particularly in Europe.”
Favourite players growing up: Eric Bristow, John Lowe, Jocky Wilson & Bobby George.
Who’s going to win this year’s title? Michael van Gerwen.
Eddie’s father, Barry Hearn OBE, stepped down after almost 40 years in charge of global powerhouse, Matchroom Sport.
Back in darts’ infancy on Sky Sports, Barry envisaged bringing new life into the sport and making millionaires out of the likes of Phil Taylor and Eric Bristow.
With prize money on the PDC circuit set to smash through the £15 million barrier in 2022, Eddie feels the growth in darts has yet to achieve its maximum.
“Probably about five years ago I sat on the board and said ‘have we hit the ceiling in the UK’? The answer is, we sit here today still not having hit the ceiling in the UK, but also seeing so much growth in so many territories around the world,” said Hearn.
“We want to garner that respect from people to make them realise and understand the size of this sport in terms of the prize money in the sport, the atmosphere in the sport, the figures of the sport, and it’s a fascinating beast that continues to baffle me.
“It’s so engaging and so rewarding and players help you do that because you’re seeing working-class heroes. You look at the likes of Jonny Clayton, who is a plasterer, I believe, and you just look at his prize money, but that is what’s so engaging about the talent.”
Hearn continued: “The man on the street can look at these guys walking out in front of thousands of people and their stories are compelling.
“My dad will always be one who wants to reward normal people for excelling and that is what we are seeing at the top end of darts now. There’s huge amounts of money to play for at Ally Pally. It’s life-changing numbers.”
It’s not long to wait until the darts returns to your screens and it’s the World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace – join us on Sky Sports for every arrow from every session across 16 days which gets under way on Wednesday, December 15. Check out daily Darts news on skysports.com/darts, our app for mobile devices and our Twitter account @skysportsdarts