World Matchplay Darts in Blackpool: Reduced crowds expected for opening weekend
The Professional Darts Corporation has issued a statement to ticket holders ahead of next month's Betfred World Matchplay in Blackpool.
The sport's annual summer spectacular returns to its traditional home at the Winter Gardens after being staged behind closed doors last year.
Organisers were hoping for capacity crowds for the nine-day event but the delay in the further easing of anti-Covid restrictions means the opening two days (Saturday July 17 and Sunday 18) are now expected to be played in front of fewer spectators.
A statement from the PDC reads: “The PDC understands the concern which ticket holders for the 2021 Betfred World Matchplay will have following the UK government's decision to delay the easing of restrictions in England to an expected date of Monday, July 19.
"At present, the PDC is working with the relevant bodies in the planning of the Betfred World Matchplay - including the UK Government's DCMS, the Winter Gardens, Blackpool Council and SeeTickets - to determine the final capacity for any affected sessions.
"We expect that the opening two days of the event will be required to have a reduced capacity but that sessions from Monday July 19 onwards will be able to proceed as normal.
"Further details will be confirmed to ticket holders as soon as possible. However it is the intention to honour all Season Ticket bookings for the tournament and provide priority to those fans who purchased through the Priority Sale period in 2020.
"Any ticket holder for sessions on July 17 or 18 who wishes to obtain a refund or defer their ticket booking to the corresponding session(s) in 2022 can do so by contacting www.seetickets.com/customerservice with their booking reference and either the last four digits of the payment card or the postcode linked to the booking.
"We appreciate the patience and support of our fans during this period and will provide a further update once available."
Meanwhile, players continue to battle it for places at the Winter Gardens, where 16 qualifiers will join the top 16 in the world order of merit.
Players Championships to help determine the qualifiers are taking place in Milton Keynes this week, where Jose de Sousa beat Michael van Gerwen 8-6 in Tuesday's final.
It was the second Players' Championship win of the year for the Portuguese, extending van Gerwen's six-month wait for a title.
De Sousa's run to the final included victories over reigning World Matchplay champion Dimitri Van den Bergh and previous Blackpool winner Rob Cross.
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