Premier League Darts: Ten players now included with relegation in new format
The Premier League of darts will expand from eight to ten players for the new season coming up next month.
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH
Last Updated: 04/01/13 3:46pm
The PDC have opted to change the format of the ever-growing competition with two extra places now being offered for the 15-night darting tour of the UK and Ireland.
16-time world champion Phil Taylor was already guaranteed a place along with the other top three in the world rankings - Adrian Lewis, James Wade and beaten World Championship finalist Michael van Gerwen.
Four other picks were expected, but that has now been increased to six with established Premier League stars Simon Whitlock and Raymond van Barneveld joined by Andy Hamilton after he made an impact in his debut season last year.
2011 champion Gary Anderson returns and he is joined by two new faces in the event with Wes Newton and Robert Thornton set to make their debuts in the 2013 Premier League.
"This new format for the McCoy's Premier League Darts is going to take the tournament to a whole new level," said PDC Chairman Barry Hearn.
"Fans across the UK and Ireland will experience five spectacular matches on each night, and all ten players have earned their spots with their achievements over the last 12 months.
"This new format will mean incredible competition both to avoid relegation and then for Play-Off places before the ninth McCoy's Premier League champion is crowned at The O2 in May."
The ten players will face each other once over the opening nine weeks of the tournament, over the best of 12 legs, before the bottom two players in the league table are relegated following the ninth league night in Brighton.
The remaining eight players will then face each other again over the remaining five league nights before the top four progress to the play-offs at The O2 in London on May 16.
The McCoy's Premier League Darts, screened live on Sky Sports HD, will begin on Thursday February 7 at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast before travelling to Aberdeen, Bournemouth, Exeter, Nottingham, Manchester, Cardiff, Glasgow and Brighton for the first phase of the event.
The final five league nights will be held in Sheffield, Dublin, Birmingham, Liverpool and Newcastle before the top four players progress to the Play-Offs at The O2 in London on May 16.