Barry Hearn gives ominous message over future of World Darts Champs at Ally Pally

Barry Hearn has admitted he is open to taking the PDC World Darts Championship away from Alexandra Palace to Saudi Arabia.

The Matchroom Chief has already threatened to move the Snooker World Championship from the Crucible to the Middle East when the current hosting deal ends in 2027. He has demanded Sheffield City Council build a new venue with 3,000 seats - more than three times the size of the 980 capacity theatre - or risk the city, which has hosted the competition since 1977, losing the tournament.

And now it appears the future of darts isn't safe either. Alexandra Palace, or Ally Pally as it is more affectionately known as, has been the home of the World Darts Championship since 2008. However, with the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund continuing to pour money into sport's major events, the 75-year-old appears open to taking darts to the Middle East as well.

Speaking on talkSPORT, Hearn was talking about his apparent willingness to take the Snooker World Championship over to Saudi. When asked if he would do the same with darts' most prestigious competition, he bluntly said: “Of course, every second of my life.”

Pressed further about those who enjoy going to Ally Pally, one of the great traditions when it comes to sport at Christmas in the UK, Hearn added: “Go to Riyadh, we’ll come back to Ally Pally for something else.”

Before continuing: “I’m being facetious. What I’m saying is, ‘live in the real world’. My employers are the sportsmen and women we promote. I have the top players in snooker saying, ‘We don’t want to leave the Crucible because of the history’.

barry hearn gives ominous message over future of world darts champs at ally pally

A general view of fans on day thirteen of the Paddy Power World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace, London. Picture date: Saturday December 30, 2023.

“But if I made the prize five times what it is now, everyone single one would go. Of course the fans are important. You can organise the fans. It doesn’t have to be the same event. The world’s your oyster.”

In the last World Championship, the world's eyes were glued to as then-16-year-old Luke Littler shot to fame by reaching the final. He was defeated 7-4 by Luke Humphries in the showpiece, but he still became one of the biggest names in the sport.

Before he said he is willing to take the darts to Saudi, Hearn was quizzed about his approach to the snooker tournament. He said the Crucible might be "past it’s sell-by date” and that all the players would also be willing to play in Saudi Arabia.

barry hearn gives ominous message over future of world darts champs at ally pally

WST is delighted to announce the first-ever invitational snooker tournament in Saudi Arabia!

He added: “The traditionalists who buy tickets to my events, are 5%. The casual people are 95%.

"My 95% want to have an uncomplicated experience watching the best in the world. Traditionalists would stay at the Crucible even there was just one other person in the audience.”

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