Inside the bubble of the Marshall Arena with snooker player Joe Perry
Perry: "It sounds a lot worse than it actually is. Once you get into the reality of it, it's a really good set-up"
By Raz Mirza
Last Updated: 10/07/20 5:09pm
Snooker player Joe Perry takes us behind the scenes at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes, which will be the venue for the upcoming World Matchplay.
The Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) announced that this year's World Matchplay will be played behind closed doors at Marshall Arena from July 18-26 moving away from its spiritual home at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool for this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The tournament will now - for the first time since being introduced in 1994 - be played behind closed doors, with the Marshall Arena being able to provide a protected environment to ensure the safe staging of the event.
One man who has first-hand experience of playing under the roof of the Arena in Milton Keyes is snooker player, Perry.
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It's sort of a one-way system where you have your test, you're then escorted to your room and you are literally in your room - like a cell - until you get the results.
The former Masters finalist played at the recent Coral Tour Championship, which was won by Scotland's Stephen Maguire.
"After this experience, you realise just how much fans bring to sport and how much they're needed to generate that extra little bit of atmosphere," Perry told the Darts Show Podcast.
"From the minute you walk into the building you can tell it's all very well organised - a real clever operation. It's sort of a one-way system where you have your test, you're then escorted to your room and you are literally in your room - like a cell - until you get the results."
Perry continued: "Once you get the green light for passing your test then you get your wrist band. The hotel was sectioned off into zones so you've got your red zone, where you're not allowed to go, and then sort of the rest of the places where you could go. It was all clearly marked out and you're just confined to that area. It's a big area so you can wander about.
"They put the food on in the evenings so everybody could sit together, obviously social distancing, but you could communicate, chat and mingle, which was nice. Some interaction.
"Apart from that you are working so the day goes pretty quick anyway. It sounds a lot worse than it actually is. Once you get into the reality of it, it's a really good set-up."
Darts returns to Sky Sports in July, with nine days of coverage from the World Matchplay getting underway on Saturday, July 18, and every day until the final on Sunday, July 26. Check out daily Darts news on skysports.com/darts, our app for mobile devices and our Twitter account @skysportsdarts.