Hearn aims high for £1million world darts champion
By Phil Lanning
EDDIE HEARN has admitted his dream is for the world champions’ prize cheque to rise to £1milllion during his reign.
The Essex promoter took over the running of the PDC three months ago following the retirement of his dad Barry in charge of Matchroom Sport Group.
Barry, 73, was the driving force over two decades in adding glitz and glamour to the oche and growing the sport to unprecedented levels of success.
Yet his son Eddie, 42, known for his high-profile boxing events has big ambitions for the sport.
Legendary star Phil Taylor picked up £60k for winning the 2005 world title but that figure was raised to £500k when Gerwyn Price won the 2021 Sid Waddell Trophy in early January.
He said: “The great thing about my old man is that all he ever thinks about is how can we provide more opportunities for dart players. How can we make them wealthier, how can we reward them?
“During the Covid period the PDC didn’t touch prize money, they continued to provide opportunities for players.
“I would love to make the World Championship a million pound first prize, that’s the general crazy plan that we’ll always talk about in board meetings.
“People relate prize money to the stature and size of the sport. If you ask a man in the street how much you get for winning the Worlds in darts, he’d probably say about 10 grand or 25 grand.
“So we have to make sure that people are aware of that. People can’t believe how much darts players make. But that’s going to continue to grow from a grass roots level.
“You can follow a dream as a kid to be a footballer. But it’s unusual for a kid to dream of being a darts player. But we know if opportunities are there to play on TV and win major prize money, it does become a more fruitful career.
“I think the job they have done on prize money is sensational. The Ally Pally is the flagship event and it should always remain that way.
“New territories that are coming in and looking to make a splash, want to make a splash with a big prize pool which ultimately is a fantastic opportunity for the players.”
While Hearn is the new PDC chairman, the running of the sport will remain in safe hands with trusted and long-standing CEO Matt Porter.
Hearn also made it very clear that there are absolutely no plans to take the World Championship away from the Ally Pally, no matter how much money was offered elsewhere.
He added: “In this position I am in, I have too much respect for the sport and Matt Porter, my old man and the board to come in and say ‘yeh we’ve had this opportunity from the middle east, we’re off’. I’d be overruled anyway. That’s because people care too much.
“This is very similar to the Crucible with the World Championship snooker. We’ve had so many opportunities to take that to China. And absolutely not is the answer.
“If I went to the board and said take the World Championship away from the Ally Pally, they’d look at me like I was mad. I wouldn’t even suggest it. That’s the beating heart of the sport.
The commercial beating heart of the sport is the World Championship. That’s the showcase event that creates the most sponsorship and TV revenue. To lose that would be a poor decision.
“For us it’s about development in different countries, it’s about the global expansion of darts. There is a mentality of if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, that can be quite a dangerous mentality in the same space.
“I did look at darts a few years ago and think how much more growth is there? I’m so envious as head of the boxing department at the numbers, the viewing figures. Darts smashes boxing to pieces.
“You look at the viewing figures on Sky and they are unbelievable. But it still has a little bit of a stigma with execs and TV networks.
“The profile of the sport is something we need to keep working on. People don’t understand, until they come and see it, they are not believers.”
Image by Sky Sports.