Comment & Analysis @RazMirza
Raymond van Barneveld fighting against Premier League Darts relegation
"The next couple of weeks are going to be tough in the Premier League. I've got to play Max Hopp in front of 14,000 German fans so I've ordered my earplugs already"
Last Updated: 14/03/19 1:10pm
Former Premier League champion Raymond van Barneveld says he "won't give up" the fight as he scraps against relegation in his retirement year.
The legendary Dutchman remains winless and a point adrift at the foot of the table in this season's competition with the threat of the drop a real possibility.
Barney has collected two points after five nights with Peter Wright averaging 108.88 to beat Van Barneveld 7-3 in Aberdeen last time out.
The 51-year-old tackles former world champion Rob Cross in Nottingham this Thursday, live on Sky Sports, before taking on Germany's Max Hopp in Berlin the following week. And he could be saying a final farewell to the Premier League when the competition hits Rotterdam for a sold-out double-header in week eight and Judgement Night.
Van Barneveld admits he has been outplayed, saying you just can't beat "eleven and twelve darters" with the standard being so incredibly high, but he still has hopes of staying up.
"I can still survive," he said in an exclusive interview with Sky Sports. "I don't want straight relegation which could be really disappointing in my last year.
"Everyone keeps telling me 'Ray, go and enjoy it', but how can you enjoy it when you're not playing competitions. That's hard for me.
"The next couple of weeks are going to be tough in the Premier League. I've got to play Max Hopp in front of 14,000 German fans so I've ordered my earplugs already."
RVB in the Premier League
|2006||Semi-finals (Lost to Roland Scholten)|
|2007||Semi-finals (Lost to Terry Jenkins)|
|2008||Semi-finals (Lost to James Wade)|
|2009||Semi-finals (Lost to James Wade)|
|2011||Semi-finals (Lost to Gary Anderson)|
|2013||Semi-finals (Lost to Phil Taylor)|
|2014||Winner (Beat Michael van Gerwen)|
|2015||Semi-finals (Lost to Michael van Gerwen)|
Van Barneveld has also welcomed the contenders idea by the PDC and he believes this is just the beginning of the format.
It's not easy, but I won't give up.
Raymond van Barneveld
"I think the PDC will move on with this because next year I won't be involved, same as Phil Taylor, but Gary Anderson should be back, so they may still purposely miss out on one player.
"It's a good idea which you have to deal with as players. You have to be professional and move on.
"So far all of the players have showed up. I think Chris Dobey played an amazing game when he drew with Mensur Suljovic, Steve Lennon played amazing against Peter Wright, although he lost. Luke Humphries and John Henderson both played amazing, so there's nothing wrong with selecting these players.
"We're also going to watch Nathan Aspinall, Hopp, Dimitri van den Bergh and Jeffrey de Zwaan, so it's good for the sport."
Barney suffered a fourth-round exit to Simon Stevenson at the UK Open in Minehead - a tournament won by youngster Nathan Aspinall - and the veteran has been amazed by the strength in depth of darts.
"The current standard of the game is not normal," he said. "I drew Stevenson in the UK Open and on his leg I hit 180, 180, 55, then missed 86 on the bullseye and he went out with 100 in two darts. I was thinking in my years you could never, never lose a leg with two 180s and now you can. That does a lot to your head because you're thinking 'what has just happened here'? It's not easy, but I won't give up."
What comes next? Night Six - Thursday, March 14 - Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham
|Nathan Aspinall||vs||Michael Smith|
|James Wade||vs||Mensur Suljovic|
|Rob Cross||vs||Raymond van Barneveld|
|Gerwyn Price||vs||Michael van Gerwen|
|Peter Wright||vs||Daryl Gurney|
Raymond van Barneveld was speaking to Sky Sports' Raz Mirza. The Premier League heads to the Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham on Thursday, March 14. You can also stay up to date with all the action by following us @SkySportsDarts and get all the latest news, previews and interviews www.skysports.com/darts