Dorset darting ace Scott Mitchell has revealed the troubles engulfing the British Darts Organisation (BDO) come as no surprise to the 2015 world champion, writes Gareth Davies.
For 2020, the BDO have moved their world championships away from what Mitchell called ‘darts spiritual home’ of the Lakeside Country Club in Surrey and into the O2’s Indigo Arena.
However, this move has proved unpopular with supporters and after poor ticket sales resulted in just 15 per cent of availability sold, event organisers wrote to all competitors informing them that prize money will be slashed.
This prompted female sensation Fallon Sherrock, who reached round three of the Professional Darts Corporation’s (PDC) global competition, to pull out of the BDO event.
Mitchell, who defeated Martin Adams to lift the BDO title and pocket £100,000 in prize money five years ago, took time out of his preparations to speak exclusively to The Independent about the whole sorry situation.
“It was a bold move from the BDO to move away from Lakeside but times change,” he said. “I totally understand why they did it but for me, Lakeside is the spiritual home of darts like Wembley is for football and Twickenham for rugby. It has always been the place to play and I will sorely miss it.”
Rumours were abound that the competition may not go ahead, but Mitchell feels that it will despite any cut in prize money. However, the 49-year-old doesn’t predict a bright future going forward for the BDO.
He added: “The prize money situation is unfortunate as many of the players have been working towards this competition for a long time.
“It’s certainly not ideal but hasn’t exactly come out of the blue either as I’m a bit longer in the tooth than some of the others. Unfortunately, I can see the BDO struggling to survive past the current World Championships but the BDO does still have its place in darts. My story demonstrates that as I was just a village lad for Dorset who played Super League for Alderholt before I was picked for my county, then I played for country.
“The next thing, in my mid-30s, I’m playing on the television and that was all down to the BDO.”
With this in mind, there have been calls from the darting community that the BDO should concentrate on running darts at amateur level, while the PDC should oversee the professional game.
For Mitchell, he feels that this scenario has happened already and the split in darts, which meant the sport has operated with two bodies since 1992, was caused because the BDO underestimated darts’ popularity.
“I see people saying that the PDC should run the pro stuff but isn’t that happening already?” Mitchell remarked. “BDO founder Olly Croft’s vision was to give pub and club players the chance to play on television, but he created superstars.
“Along came someone like Eric Bristow and at 21, he was bigger than the sport.
“The PDC gave players like Eric the chance to be exactly that and this is the big difference nowadays. This is why Barry Hearn has become involved and tried to take over the BDO too.”
If the BDO did cease to exist in its present guise, Mitchell would not be drawn on what the future would hold as he juggles playing darts with life as a farmer. I don’t really know what I would do if the BDO folded. My priority on a day to day basis is with the farm and making sure my cattle are in the right field.
“Maybe I would have a go at the PDC qualifying school, but I love the farm and darts is very much my hobby.”