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PDC v BDO; Are We Closer To A Unified Game?

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Since 1993 the sport of darts has seen a bitter internal feud between the long standing organisation, the British Darts Organisation (BDO) and the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) as it is now known.

Now in 2015, the tide between the two facets in darts has shifted considerably with the PDC flourishing both as a company and on TV where contracts with both ITV and the lucrative Sky Sports sees the world’s best dart players plying their trade in arenas around the country, whilst the younger generation coming through no longer dream of playing at the iconic Lakeside, but look to the bright lights of Alexandra Palace.

It has been no secret that the PDC struggled in it’s infancy despite having the top 16 players in the world move over to their stable on it’s inception in 1993 with the more established BDO creating new stars including Raymond Van Barneveld.

Whilst the top 16 moved over to create more opportunities to earn a living from the game, a large proportion of the players were entering the twilight of their careers with Phil Taylor profiting with numerous world titles as the PDC limped along.

The early to mid-2000s seemed to see a shift as the PDC began to make waves in the sport with more top BDO players, such as former world champion Steve Beaton and others like Ronnie Baxter and Kevin Painter, who joined the exodus to the PDC.

Matchroom Sports involvement in the game was to also have a profound effect on the sport with more tournaments broadcast on TV before the acid moment came in 2006 when Barneveld made the shift to the PDC, with a regular exodus of world champions and top players from the BDO to the PDC happening yearly since, though the quality coming across from the BDO has fallen sharply as the PDC have introduced both a Youth Tour and a Challenger Tour to go alongside their Main Tour which has seen the PDC begin to create their own stars of the next generation rather than relying on the BDO farm system.

For the BDO it almost seems to be that the curtains are beginning to be drawn for this once iconic darts organisation as bitter internal disputes and the lack of TV coverage has shown the large majority of it’s players that the future is elsewhere, though a few old stalwarts such as Martin Adams, Tony O’Shea, Scott Waites and Darryl Fitton remain, though the latter three have flirted with open PDC events such as the Grand Slam of Darts and the UK Open.

Adams remains staunch in his support for the ‘proper darts’ of the BDO but it looks increasingly to be a hopeless cause. There has been brief respite with the introduction of BDO Events, a sidearm of the BDO, created to increase TV opportunities and tournaments but despite the relative success of the new World Darts Trophy and it being broadcast on Eurosport, reports suggest the company are losing huge sums of money and the viability of the sidearm is being questioned, particularly now they seem to have gone quiet and disappeared.

With the PDC juggernaut continuing to grow, just how much longer can the BDO remain as a viable entity in darts? No longer are the younger generation playing in as many youth events as they see a move to the PDC youth and challenger tours as the next step for a career in darts.

With the BDO contract for Lakeside reportedly up for renewal in 2016/17 it remains to be seen if the BBC renew and should they take the decision not too, it will likely be the final nail in the coffin for the once almighty BDO.

There is little doubt that unified darts is edging closer with it likely to come under the arm of the PDC, particularly as the NDB, the Dutch federation for Darts are hearing whispers from within that they want to work with the PDC.

As the summer approaches and we get into the PDC World Matchplay time of the year, it is still 6 months until we see any BDO darts and as more PDC tournaments come and go. BDO’s failure to stay relevant in the sport looks set to cost them dearly, with another offer of £1 million unlikely to come from Matchroom and PDC supreme Barry Hearn, for a unified sport as the PDC look set to make a hostile takeover of the sport, creating those all important avenues into the sport.

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About Andy Moore

Andy is Chief Editor of The Sports Lowdown and a sports journalist by profession having written for both print publications such as The Sun, The Rugby Paper as well as various online digital sites such as The Aviva Premiership, The Women's Super League plus many many more.

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