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Rod Harrington explains decision to increase Premier League Darts field to 10 players

Rod Harrington Posted 3rd January 2013 view comments

So why did we decide to increase the Premier League from eight players to 10 players this year?

Well the top four in the world rankings - Phil Taylor, Adrian Lewis, James Wade and Michael van Gerwen - get an automatic spot and in my opinion Simon Whitlock and Raymond van Barneveld pick themselves.

Thornton: outside bet made Premier League field

Thornton: outside bet made Premier League field

That left us, in my opinion, with four other people to fit into two wildcard places and I felt you could make a good case for all of them:

- ANDY HAMILTON - He has made the quarter-finals of every TV event this year and the crowd love him. He's a larger-than-life character who has great passion and you rarely hear the fans boo him. He also made the Premier League semi-finals last year.

We still need to work out the exact format, but the fans should get extra value. It works for them and it works for us and everybody agreed with it.

Rod Harrington
Quotes of the week

- GARY ANDERSON - Everybody loves Gary Anderson, who won the Premier League in 2011, simply for his scoring power. He's such an exciting player when he's on form, even though he misses doubles. We need players who will put the fans on the edge of their seats and he does that.

- ROBERT THORNTON - Many people would have put down Robert Thornton as an outsider, but he won the UK Open and beat Phil Taylor twice on Sky last year. Not many people can say they've done that in darts history!

- WES NEWTON - He has had a couple of great years, even though he hasn't really done it on TV in big tournaments. He got to the final of the European Championship and is number six in the world, which merits a place, and we're hoping the Premier League will teach him to play on the big stage and win big tournaments.

So as a director of the PDC, I sent an email to the PDC CEO Matt Porter and Sky Sports' Executive Producer Rory Hopkins to discuss it - and then I sent an email to Barry Hearn suggesting increasing the field to 10.

It gives the spectators two more players to watch - and therefore an extra game each week - which is better value for them.

We'll also bring the match format down a bit, probably best of 12 legs, because a shorter format is more exciting to watch. Plus if you end up with a bad game the crowd won't get bored because they're not up there for long.

Sky were happy with the idea, Matt Porter was happy with the idea and we were just waiting to hear from Barry. He straight away agreed - and suggested the idea of relegation after each player has played each other once.

In some years, we've seen players get towards the end of the league stage unable to make the top four and they've just gone through the motions. So this year, after nine weeks, two players will be relegated.

We then need to fit the rest of the matches into five weeks - so in some weeks the fans will get six games on a night.

We still need to work out the exact format, but the fans should get extra value. It works for them and it works for us and everybody agreed with it (which is unusual!)

It got the final tick at Wednesday's PDC board meeting and that's the way things are going to be this year.

To be honest there was nobody else really in the frame. Dave Chisnall won the Tour Players Championship, but hasn't really done anything on TV yet.

There's no doubt he's an unbelievable player and in the future he will probably get in if he carries on the way he is.

But at this moment in time it was only really the 10 names that were considered.

The state of the sport

The Premier League will build on the best ever World Championship.

The PDC has proved it has got the ranking system right because the players coming through are good hardened professionals. With the enhancement of the Challenge Tour this year to provide the youngsters with a stepping stone, it's only going to get better.

I'd also like to pay tribute to the production team at Sky Sports, who do an unbelievable job which makes the sport so appealing to the viewers at home - as well as the players who have done brilliantly this year.

We enjoyed a fabulous final with Phil Taylor coming from two sets down on two occasions to beat Michael van Gerwen, the brightest young talent in the game.

My admiration for both players is great and I don't think anybody should blow Phil's spat with Raymond van Barneveld out of proportion. The shook hands at the Awards Dinner and we are keeping it in proportion backstage; for those two it's all forgotten.

The tournament, overall, couldn't have been much better and I don't think you could have written a better script before it started.

The game is in a very healthy state right now. We have a package that certainly works.

Premier League Darts kicks off live on Sky Sports on Thursday February 7

Comments (13)

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Rob Staniforth says...

Dissapointed, think there should have stuck to the top 8! if you miss out then tough, work harder, trouble is though i do understand this is the only way some players are ever going to get into it, as certain players are gaurenteed a spot cos of their name no matter how they are playing, Dean Whinstanley has to be unlucky after the first year he has had, Hamilton should NOT have made the spot! and the form Anderson showed neither should he! *Anderson my fav player also

Posted 01:46 14th January 2013

Jarrad Sharp says...

Dave Chisnall could have easily been a wildcard. Tough call.

Posted 15:11 7th January 2013

Marc Ayres says...

I have to admit, increasing to 10 players and adding a relegation is a very good idea, but feel slightly disappointed in the way the relegation works,. I think a better idea for relegation would be that these two players would become inelegible for the following years premier league. This would mean that there is some loss for the underperfoming players in that they will have to work there way back into the premier league the year after and will obviously incur a penalty of having lesser tv coverage and loss of income, and also gives the ability to introduce two new darters into the fray the next year. This gives up and coming or on-form darters a chance to appear on TV on a more regular basis

Posted 13:39 7th January 2013

John Spurgeon says...

good call rod it will be better to have all the worlds top players in the premier league rather than limiting it . Will give the fans better value and the players that deserve it a chance

Posted 10:39 4th January 2013

Mike Walsh says...

Rod, what is going to be the format from week 10 onwards? Will it go back to best of 14 legs?

Posted 10:27 4th January 2013

Daz Chaz says...

I think kim huybrechts and dean winstanley would have been good wildcards.

Posted 08:03 4th January 2013

Richard Amos says...

i,am a yorkshire man that lives in ireland cricket is my first love. but saying that since sky got hold of darts i can't get enough. i totally agree about the new format for premier league.

Posted 23:58 3rd January 2013

Darren Wilkinson says...

Wasn't impressed with the idea at first but listening to Rods explanation I see why they came up with the 10 player format. We will see how it works as the weeks progress and I do like the relegation idea itl be similar to the football play offs and keep all the players interested . Darts is getting bigger and bigger and it's a fantastic night out with some awesome arrows thrown and we follow it all over the country and when we cannot be there sky sports does a fantastic job long may it continue It's also good to see a sporting boardroom working together in the interest of the fans ie more matches,more players ,same price because tickets already on sale before decision announced ,well done Rod and PDC board Roll on Nottingham premier league Yours Darren and Helen Wilkinson

Posted 20:07 3rd January 2013

Paul Dennett says...

The strange thing is i was thinking the other day about having 10 players and trying to work out how it could be done. And here it is. Fantastic well done PDC

Posted 19:51 3rd January 2013

Shane Henson says...

Although Thornton has had a good year. I would definitely pick Jenkins or painter over him. #nobrainer

Posted 18:28 3rd January 2013

Jean. Day says...

brill idea can't wait fot Paul Nicholson to up there with the rest of them lookin forward feb 7th

Posted 15:16 3rd January 2013

Robert Crozier says...

yes i toatly agree with rod it would be great to hav the top ten players in the world it would be great for the fans and tv viewers that cant get to see the best play bring it on i say

Posted 14:31 3rd January 2013

Steve Wild says...

You should have had Ted Hankey in it. He would have got more interest than Wes Newton!

Posted 13:39 3rd January 2013

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