BRANSGORE darts ace and former world champion Scott Mitchell has spoken of his sadness over the collapse of the British Darts Organisation.
This year marks the first with no BDO World Championship since 1977 after the organisation went into liquidation last year following a controversial and ultimately fatal decision to move its championships from the iconic Lakeside Country Club to The O2 in London.
Ex-BDO world champion Mitchell said: “It’s really sad. The BDO World Championship was an iconic tournament. It usually took place around the same weekend as the FA Cup third round and had become an institution for the British public to watch.
“When you tell people you play darts professionally and you say you’ve played at Lakeside, it’s the same to darts as Wembley is to football.
“The place is still sat there, and I hope one day darts and fans can return there on one of the tours.”
After the world championships were relocated, sparse crowds and failed promises to players about prize money and sponsorship led to 2020 champion Wayne Warren receiving just £23,000 in prize money.
The Bransgore farmer, who won the 2015 BDO event, added: “It was pretty devastating as some of the players couldn’t cover their bills with the small amounts they ended up receiving.
“Towards the end, a couple of television deals were lost and they became difficult to renegotiate. Without those and not being on mainstream television, it became very difficult to secure sponsorship to cover your expenses.
“We were very much on the amateur side of things with how it ended up. It was very much hand-to-mouth and unfortunately, the hands eventually were empty.”
In September, the BDO went into liquidation with the United Kingdom Darts Association taking responsibility for the counties who used to play under it.
When the news broke, ‘Scotty Dog’ Mitchell went back to his day job on the family Bransgore farm. He has still found plenty of time for the practice board as he prepares to take another crack at the Professional Darts Corporation’s (PDC) Qualifying School next month.
Mitchell, who has a fierce local fanbase known as the Farmy Army, said: “Last year I had only just come off the back of losing in the BDO world championship semi-final, so for the first two days, my head wasn’t really with it.
“Hopefully this year, I can try again, as it was all very new last time.”