As an unprecedented week of change at the British Darts Organisation (BDO) comes to an end, its’ five new Board members may by now be wondering if they really know just what they have let themselves in for.
The gang of five were elected to join Vic Sexton, the only remaining member of the previous Board, on the basis of a manifesto sent to all the relevant voting BDO counties. This document points out what has been abundantly clear for many years – that the BDO needs to modernise – and begins to spell out a vision for the future. Conversely, however, as pointed out by Croft in his responses, it seems to be lacking in business reality, and excludes the chapter titled ‘Delivery’.
The BDO really is something of a mystery – quite how it has continued to function for the last twenty years is a great unanswered question. Despite a thriving competitor poaching its best players, a total loss of interest in darts in the country in which it operates, a ban on accepting certain advertising curtailing its main income source, and, more recently, a worldwide recession and total collapse in the sports sponsorship market, somehow the BDO has struggled on. Indeed, this year the organisation managed to find a new broadcast partner in ESPN, and just this week it announced that coverage of September’s World Masters will be shown in the United States for the first time.
According to the BDO website, ‘Everyone on the new Board has experience and skills in their individual roles’. Chairman Barry Gilbey and his new colleagues – Sue Getty, Derek Weston, Wayne Williams, and, most tantalisingly, current BDO World Champion Martin Adams – may want to start honing those skills somewhat sharpish. Having executed what can almost be described as a democratic coup, the new Board should only expect a short honeymoon. This is darts – if changes are not forthcoming by the time the World Championship comes around again, the bars of The Lakeside will no doubt be filled with the murmurs of another winter of discontent.
Peculiarly, however, the first thing on the famous five’s To-Do list should be to ensure that theirs is the last coup for several years. Following a forty year period of authoritarian stability, the quickest route to self-destruction is likely to stem from continual change at the top. Under the current antiquated rules, every Director must retire at each AGM, and then seek re-election – hence the new board could have just eleven months and three weeks left.
This is crunch time for the Croft-less BDO. The organisation needs vision, it needs to take good decisions, it needs to communicate well with its members and supporters, it needs to retain a TV presence, and it needs some income. But most of all, it needs to look at Paragraph 8 Section F of the BDO Handbook Vol 1, and work out how to alter it. Before they crack open lashings of ginger beer, the famous five have a mystery to solve – or they might find they get in a fix.
A copy of the letter that the five new board members sent to all BDO counties prior to the AGM, plus some responses from Olly Croft/ the BDO, is available here. (Note to the new Board – I suggest you spell-check your documents in future, particularly if you intend to run a more proffesional [sic] organisation).
Olly Croft was interviewed for a special episode of The Wrong Bed podcast in Autumn 2010. The thirty-minute interview is available from this page or iTunes, in an episode called The O.C, 17 September 2010.