World Matchplay darts: Plans for capacity crowds in Blackpool this July
Blackpool’s Winter Gardens is on course to welcome back darts fans for July’s Betfred World Matchplay following confirmation that the event is being planned for a capacity crowd.
The Covid-19 pandemic meant that the prestigious World Matchplay had to be held behind closed doors in Milton Keynes last year – the first time since its launch in 1994 that the Professional Darts Corporation’s summer spectacular had been staged away from Blackpool.
However, with restrictions continuing to ease across the UK, the PDC has revealed its ambition to welcome a 2,000 crowd for each of 10 sessions from July 17-25.
Fans who purchased tickets for the 2020 event saw their booking moved to 2021, with the remaining tickets on sale through seetickets.com.
PDC chief executive Matt Porter said: “So far the information we have is that if the June 21 deadline for the lifting of all social restrictions is met, then we will be at the Winter Gardens in the middle of July with no limits whatsoever.
“That’s great because we’ve got thousands of ticket holders from last year and we hope they will be joined by thousands more people, all coming to remind themselves what a great night they can have at the darts.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has proved a huge test for the PDC since but Porter praised the response which has enabled tournaments to continue, mainly behind closed doors.
He added: “I’ve been doing this for the best part of 20 years and it’s without doubt the biggest challenge that myself and probably anybody in a similar position would have faced during that period.
“It’s unprecedented, it was unknown, we didn’t know when we might be able to come out of it and we didn’t know how we’d come out of it.
“It has been a challenge but the way that everybody has responded – the staff, our partners, the players especially – is something we can be very proud of.”
Crowds will return to darts events for the first time in 2021 at this month’s Unibet Premier League from May 24-28 before focus switches to July’s hugely popular World Matchplay.
Belgium’s Dimitri Van den Bergh won the 2020 World Matchplay in Milton Keynes, with Rob Cross being the last player to lift the Phil Taylor Trophy in Blackpool 12 months earlier.
The champion’s trophy bears the name of the legendary 16-time winner from Stoke.
A series of Players’ Championships planned for June and July at Milton Keynes and in Bolton will finalise the 16 qualifiers who will compete in Blackpool alongside the top 16 in the PDC’s world order of merit.
Tickets for the 2021 Betfred World Matchplay are available via: https://pdc.seetickets.com/tour/2021-betfred-world-matchplay
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