The BDO has confirmed that prize money at the upcoming 2020 World Championship will be ‘reduced somewhat’ after failing to secure a sponsor and ticket sales being extremely low having moved away from the iconic Lakeside venue.
Chairman Des Jacklin wrote to the players who have qualified for the event at London’s O2, which starts on Saturday 4 January, informing them of the troubling news.
Sponsorship has reportedly been impossible to find due to the BDO being considered ‘toxic’ by potential partners, while only 15% of tickets have been sold for their flagship competition.
Remarkably, Jacklin confirmed that income is 85% down on the company’s budget predictions as a result, meaning they were budgeting for a complete sellout at the brand new venue.
While some sporting events could forecast that quite confidently, the BDO World Darts Championship is not one of them.
The following was included in the letter sent to qualified players from the chairman…
‘I am writing to you on behalf of the BDO Directors in order to convey some information that is extremely difficult for me to write and that will be undoubtedly disappointing for you to read.
‘It concerns the level of prize monies for thie year’s World Professional Championships which we are, with great reluctance, having to reduce somewhat whilst still retaining a very lucrative incentive.
‘The reasons for taking this decision is based purely on finance and the observance of our roles as BDO Directors to act in the best interests of the company which, as you will hopefully understand, has demanded consideration of the following:
‘a) Our commercial advisors [Sportotal] have informed that title or other sponsorship has been impossible to secure for the BDO World Pro due mainly to the adverse publicity that the BDO has received on various aspects of social media and that in their opinion the BDO is currently ‘toxic’
‘b) Ticket sales are currently only at a total of 15% of ticket availability and therefore the income is 85% down on the budget predictions
‘c) The TV contract income has been largely decimated by TV production costs and by payment of previous debts as incurred before the current directors were elected into office.
‘Given the current financial position of the BDO we as directors would have been failing in our fiduciary duty had we ignored these elements and pledged as prize money the funds we do not have, nor are guaranteed to receive.’
While the letter to players did not confirm how much the prize fund is set to be reduced by, reports suggest the total for both the men’s and women’s tournaments combined will be at £150,000, down from £329,000 at the 2019 World Championship.
The women’s top prize will drop from £12,000 to £8,000, which is entirely different from what was promised by Jacklin earlier in the year, when he ‘confirmed’ an increase in prize money for the ladies.
‘The men’s prize fund will stay the same at £300,000,’ Jacklin told the Weekly Dartscast in August. ‘The ladies’ prize fund will be almost doubled.
‘So we’ll be going from £29,000 to £54,000 for the ladies. The way that will be broken down is the first round, second round (quarter-finals), semi-finals and runner-up, the prize money will all double.
‘The winner’s prize fund will go from £12,000 to £20,000.’
Gerwyn Price explains how he has gained a mental advantage over Peter Wright
Glen Durrant reacts to 'kick in the belly' World Championship defeat to Gerwyn Price
Van Gerwen mocks Wright's claim he should be favourite for PDC World Darts Championship
The letter sent to qualified players went on to explain how Sportotal have been paid a fee of £5,000-per-month by the BDO which has ‘reduced almost to nil the earning potential of the BDO’.
Jacklin also states that: ‘Sportotal have, over the past two years, taken almost £200k in payments from BDO but have brought in no sponsorships.’
Players are not obliged to play in the tournament given the situation surrounding the prize funds but the letter asks those who have qualified to do so for the sake of the audiences, their sponsors and because they have worked to qualify for the tournament.
There is also a call for negativity on social media to be diminished to improve the image of the BDO.
The tournament is set to go ahead at the O2, but the future of the BDO beyond there is unclear.
Things have certainly not gone to plan for the BDO since Metro.co.uk spoke to Jacklin in January and he envisaged a new era of professionalism for the organisation.
‘I think it needs to be run as a business rather than a darts club. It’s been run by a darts club, spit and sawdust and we can’t have that,’ Jacklin told Metro.co.uk in January 2019.
‘It has to be run as a business it has to be more polished and the thing I keep hearing from people is that the BDO can never be as professional as the PDC, we can never compete, and I think that is the biggest load of crap in the world.
‘We can compete because we are the grass roots of darts, we can be just as professional at our level as they are at theirs.
‘They have more money to throw at the game. They cater for the elite, whereas we cater for the grass roots of darts.
‘I don’t see why we can’t be just as professional at our level and in that way I think we should be on an equal footing.
‘I don’t think we are, but I think we should be within the next year to 18 months.’