Luke Littler rival insists darts World Championship must leave Ally Pally as Saudi eyed | Other | Sport

Darts star Gerwyn Price has backed the idea of moving the sport’s most famous tournament to Saudi Arabia. Former PDC Chairman Barry Hearn has triggered speculation that the World Championship will relocate from its famous home at Ally Pally to the Middle East, a notion that the 2021 champion has backed.

‘The Iceman’, who has just endured a difficult Premier League season that was won by Luke Littler, notoriously fell out with fans at the London venue in the 2022/23 tournament, after being relentlessly jeered during matches.

He responded bizarrely, wearing ear defenders during his quarter-final defeat to Gabriel Clemens in a bid to block out the noise.

And now the 39-year-old has taken to social media to back Hearn’s proposals. He wrote in an Instagram post: “Maybe it’s the way forward, less drunken hooligans that aren’t fans, causing fights, that turn up once in a blue moon.

“It spoil/dictates the outcome of the game in what’s the most important event of the year for the players. If you want that atmosphere there’s four months of it with the Premier League. People can still enjoy themselves without alcohol.”

The Welshman’s comments come amid Saudi having a growing influence on the sporting landscape, hosting the recent unification heavyweight title bout between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk. The World Snooker Tour also held its inaugural tournament in the country this year, with the nation also on course to host the 2034 World Cup.

Hearn, 75, revealed this week thad he had held discussions over a potential switch. Ally Pally, renowned for creating a raucous atmosphere on an annual basis, has bee the home of the world championship since 2008 after it was switched from Circus Tavern in Essex.

“I have spoken to the Saudis and they were very keen,” Hearn told the Mirror. “But of course there’s no alcohol in Saudi. There will be quite soon. And when it does, the first event they will want to stage in Saudi will be darts.

“It’s a great atmosphere at Ally Pally, but well, we’re looking at it. So we’ve got to start looking at making the World Championships bigger. If I went from 96 players to 128 for example, which I can easily do in a heartbeat, it brings in a lot more TV money from different countries.”

The London arena currently only allows for a capacity of 3,2000 for darts events. And Hearn also pointed out that switch to Saudi “gives me an extra 25,000 seats” to sell to a live audience.

The Matchroom Sport founder has echoed similar sentiments about the World Snooker Championship. He’s declared himself open to moving the event away from its traditional home at the Crucible, with the tournament’s contract with the Sheffield arena set to expire in 2028.

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