The Luke Littler effect puts Alexandra Palace’s future as host of the PDC World Darts Championship ‘in discussion’ | darts news

Barry Hearn says the future of the World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace is “up for discussion” after Luke Littler’s dramatic effect on the sport.

Hearn says the 17-year-old is “the gift that keeps on giving” after bursting onto the scene and throwing darts at the mainstream.

Littler stormed into the 2024 World Championship final on his tournament debut and last week won the Premier League, recording a nine-dart finish in his 11-7 victory over Luke Humphries in the final.

Alexandra Palace has hosted the World Championships since 2008, but the 3,200-capacity venue is limited and tickets sell out in July before even reaching general sale.

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Speaking on the Love The Darts podcast, Matt Edgar said the sport could be entering a period of Littler dominance.

Matchroom Sport chairman Hearn told Palestinian Authority news agency: “Do we need to move to a bigger venue? Ally Pally’s largest room needs a lot of work, but it could hold 6,000 people per session.

“So there is the potential. But the other side of the coin is that the game of darts around the world is becoming so big that I actually need to extend the World Championship.”

“If I have eight extra sessions, I’ll have 25,000 more tickets to sell. But, inevitably, in the end we’ll see what we’re going to do.”

“It’s one step at a time, I’m not a gambler, but sometimes you hit a curve ball like Luke Littler and you have to rethink your strategy.”

Hear ‘keep your options open’

Hearn added: “We think we could sell 250,000 tickets for the World Championship and they wouldn’t fit into the Ally Pally.

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Most notably, Littler won the Premier League in his debut campaign after defeating world number one Luke Humphries 11-7 in the final.

“It’s one step at a time, we’re looking at the big room but it needs a lot of work. We’re keeping our options open because we’ve learned with Luke Littler that sometimes you can’t see what’s coming. It’s under discussion with everyone.”

In April, PDC chief executive Matt Porter said: “It’s something that’s under constant review, but it would take something very special for us to leave Ally Pally.

“It’s an iconic place, it’s a beloved place.

“The World Darts Championship at Ally Pally at Christmas, those three things go together in the same way as Wimbledon, strawberries and cream and summer fit together.

“It’s a fantastic venue for the event, we bring a lot of infrastructure with us, in terms of a fan village, and not all venues can do that, there’s a lot more to the Ally Pally than the arena where the darts are played.

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Littler had a message for his skeptics after his Premier League victory

“But you can never rule out anything in the future because the event sells out in July even before it goes on general sale.

“It’s a phenomenon and it’s up to us to maximize opportunities and revenue for players. You can’t rule it out, but you don’t want to fix what isn’t broken.”

‘Smaller like Tiger Woods; darts now to a new level in the stratosphere’

Littler has already transcended the sport, appearing on Saturday night chat shows and high-profile podcasts while also presenting a Brit Award.

Hearn added: “This is going to reach a level we haven’t encountered before. Darts is a huge business but we’ve reached another level in the stratosphere. It’s not a huge surprise but it’s the best 2024 gift there could be.” request.

“I’ve had broadcasters from all over the world queuing up, sponsors wanting to see what’s available, reports of future events sold out.

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Watch Littler’s nine darts from every angle as ‘The Nuke’ reaches perfection at the O2 Stadium

“Instead of fading away, it’s gaining momentum. I now call it the Luke Littler effect, the gift that keeps on giving.

“I’d compare him to the British version of Tiger Woods. He’s down to earth and doesn’t seem to get discouraged, for a 17-year-old that’s just amazing.

“I just think darts haven’t even started to reach the global level. I’ve been in this business for 50 years and I’ve never seen anything like it in any sport, it’s as simple as that.”

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