PDC World Championship: Barry Hearn says options remain open over venue choice
Hearn: "If it has to be Ally Pally behind closed doors, it will be. If it has to be somewhere else, it will be. If it can be with a crowd, it will be"
Last Updated: 29/09/20 9:05am
Barry Hearn says the PDC is examining all available options with regard to the staging of the 2020 PDC World Championship.
As a return date for fans at sporting events in the UK remains unclear, the PDC has successfully put on tournaments in front of live audiences in Germany in recent weeks.
Meanwhile, several PDC majors are being played behind closed doors in England, with the upcoming World Grand Prix set to take place in Coventry next week.
With the sport's premier event at the Alexandra Palace less than three months away, a decision will need to be made at some point.
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"I'm so frustrated, I don't know," said Hearn, when asked about the possibility of moving the World Championship away from the Ally Pally.
"The trouble is, it's not a question of taking it somewhere else in the world, because by the time you get there, they might have a COVID-19 problem themselves and the whole thing is thrown out.
"In the back of my mind, the one per cent dream is that we can create a very speedy and possibly saliva-based test which can mean that we can prove that everybody in an arena is negative. Then, we could have live crowds and not socially distance - can we do that in time for December?
"There are people in America who are trying to do it at the moment. That would be brilliant."
'We'll be wherever we have to be'
"But if not, we'll be wherever we have to be because what we want to do is not let the players down," he continued.
"They will be playing for the same prize money, wherever and whenever it is. We won't let the fans down because they'll be seeing the greatest darts players in the world, on a stage for the biggest prize in the sport.
"The rest of it are just details that we'll work around, but I need to find a $5 saliva test where I'll get results in 10 minutes, then perhaps the government will let us.
"If we can prove everyone is negative, can't they be in the arena anyway? Maybe we're giving up a bit too easy... not in this camp, we'll be giving it our best shot.
"If it has to be Ally Pally behind closed doors, it will be. If it has to be somewhere else, it will be.
"If it can be with a crowd, it will be. Whatever is possible, it will be. The players will do the best."
If it has to be Ally Pally behind closed doors, it will be. If it has to be somewhere else, it will be. If it can be with a crowd, it will be.
Hearn is leaving all options open
Premier League play-offs
Perhaps more pressing is the venue for the Premier League play-offs. Although The O2 is booked for October 22, it may be switched elsewhere. With Glen Durrant, Gary Anderson, Peter Wright and Nathan Aspinall vying for the title, an announcement is expected imminently.
"Anything is possible," commented Hearn. "What I've learnt about the world that we're working in at the moment is to be careful about making predictions because everything seems to change by the week.
"It looks very unlikely, obviously now, that we're going to have a crowd at all and the decision will be made in the next few days by Matt Porter and his team as to whether we stay at the O2, Milton Keynes or anywhere else.
"It's a big night, it's the final play-off of the Premier League. These guys have played brilliantly throughout. It's a shame that we're not going to see a crowd but we're going to see a great evening of darts, that's for sure."
Although darts - like all sports - is facing a period of uncertainty, Hearn is remaining positive.
"Everybody is practising like hell because they're not coming out of their houses, so the standard has been brilliant.
"Darts is in a good place, more than anything it needs a crowd for the atmosphere to come across. So we've really got to maintain a positive stance on it, no retreat, no surrender."
Watch live coverage of all seven days of the World Grand Prix on Sky Sports Arena - the action begins on Tuesday October 6 from 6pm.