Darts’ despairing week

October 23, 2009

Another week in darts’ damaging divide comes to a close, and we’re back at square one. To recap an eventful few days in the on-going soap opera featuring Barry Hearn and Olly Croft:

Tuesday: the PDC board of Directors write an open letter, signed by Barry, to the Director and members of BDO (and The Sun newspaper) offering £1 million to buy them out entirely, as well as guaranteed investment of another £1 million to the amateur – presumably county – game. “We are prepared to meet to discuss this matter at a convenient time and location with a view to harmonious conclusion allowing our takeover to be completed in 2010.”

Wednesday: Olly, in his position as Founder of the BDO, responds that the priceless asset is not for sale, and that the reason it doesn’t make any money is that all profits are reinvested into the sport. “Halloween happens, the clocks go back and Barry Hearn and the PDC start their usual campaign to try and disrupt our World Championships at Lakeside…. This has everything to do with his inflated ego and perceived self-importance.”

Thursday: Barry bounces back with another missive, this time questioning Olly’s authority to turn down the offer, and letting it be known that he’s personally ready to sit down with all 66 shareholders (counties) to discuss his thoughts. Let’s hope he has a big table. “Olly Croft has again proved himself to be out of touch with the modern game and incapable of taking darts forward.”

Friday: So far, all quiet. Maybe Olly’s response is stuck in the postal strike. Perhaps he’s run out of ways of saying no. Or he realises that he will always lose a war of words.

Genuine offer or headline-grabbing opportunism? If the PDC is doing that well, why bother with the BDO? Is Barry jealous of the BBC contract? Or is he worried about the trickle of BDO returnees?

I, of course, don’t have a clue. But I do know that it is only by death or debt that the BDO and PDC will become one next year.

Regardless, for a couple of wonderful hours on Wednesday morning, I permitted myself to dream. One code, one World Championship, darts on two terrestrial channels and two or more specialist outlets, the best players making a healthy living, a logical inter-county tournament perhaps culminating in a play-off shown online, and, above all, the best player in the world winning the biggest tournament in front of the largest TV audience every January. Darts in good hands with a rosy future.

By midday sanity returned, and with it the gloom of the mess that my beloved darts made of itself in the 1990s. The words of head-teacher Brian Stimpson from the 1986 comedy classic Clockwise have been rolling around in my brain ever since: “It’s not the despair, I can stand the despair. It’s the hope.”