If you’ve headed online recently to purchase your Lakeside tickets for the 2019 BDO World Championship, you may be surprised to note that these are not yet on sale.
In fact, it has been suggested that next year’s iteration of the BDO title will not even be contested at this iconic venue, and this would represent the first time since 1986 that the tournament was hosted elsewhere.
At the same time, the BDO has yet to secure television coverage for the event, meaning that the 2019 championship may not be available on terrestrial television.
These are two of the numerous challenges facing new BDO Chairperson Des Jacklin, who was recently appointed after a closely-fought election and narrow six vote victory.
But what does the appointment mean for the organisation, and is Jacklin the man to revive the fortunes of the BDO?
Jacklin was elected as chairman after seeing off the challenge of darts manager Roger Schena, who currently looks after PDC player Dave Chisnall and the reigning ladies’ world champion Lisa Ashton.
Interestingly, it was thought that Schena’s strong PDC connections counted against him during the vote, with the latter organisation only formed following an acrimonious split from the BDO back in the early 1990s.
Jacklin also boasts strong links to the sport, with his wife Paula a dedicated professional and currently captain of the Lincolnshire Ladies side. Paula, who recently women’s’ circuit and her popularity arguably helped Des to secure the vote.
While Jacklin’s first challenge is to confirm a venue for the 2019 World Championship and secure TV coverage, he must also ensure that the BDO competes more aggressively with the PDC in the future.
Ever since the games’ top players split from the BDO to form a new and more progressive organisation nearly 25 years ago, the PDC has gone from strength to strength and continues to dominate to this day.
The PDC tour certainly features a larger number of high-profile tournaments, for example, with the last German event drawing more than 20,000 fans alone.
The coveted Premier League format has also created optimal exposure for players and established a global fan base, while many of its leading performers are extremely well-known and boast a presence that transcends the sport of darts.
The greater appeal and quality of the PDC circuit has triggered a significant boost in sponsorship and television coverage, while organisers have invested much of their additional revenues back into the sport.
To this end, the winner of the 2019 PDC World Championship will pocket a cool £500,000, following a dramatic showdown in front of a packed house on New Years’ Day.
So, while the BDO Championship has always appealed to grassroot fans and revelled in the unique atmosphere created at the Lakeside, it continues to lose ground to its bitter rivals with every passing year.
This years’ PDC World Championship at Alexandra Palace will also feature at least two female players in the 96-strong field, with this organisation becoming increasingly diverse and forward-thinking in its outlook.
With these points in mind, Jacklin must commit to making sweeping changes to the BDO over time, as he looks to create a long-term plan that can make the organisation more relevant and competitive in the future.
Once he has tackled the immediate issues surrounding next years’ World Championship, he must also focus on increasing the number of available tournaments and the level of sponsorship across the board.
Only then can the BDO begin to operate from a more level playing field, and create a sport where two distinct organisations compete tenaciously for the attention of the world’s top talent.