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Page last updated at 13:00 GMT, Monday, 14 January 2008

Webster ponders full-time career

By Sarah Holt

Mark Webster celebrates with the BDO trophy
Webster is back in action at the weekend for his county Clywd

New BDO world champion Mark Webster will decide whether to concentrate on darts full-time after his Lakeside win.

The 24-year-old beat Simon Whitlock in a thrilling final to become the first Welshman to win the title in 13 years.

The trainee plumber from Denbigh earned 85,000 for his efforts, but is undecided about whether to dedicate his career full-time to the sport.

"It probably makes sense to carry on with it (plumbing), but then again I'm world champion now," said Webster.

Webster only took up the sport at the age of 18 but had a meteoric rise in 2007.

If you can make a living out of a sport then it is great because I love playing darts

Mark Webster
He won the Welsh Open, Welsh Classic and Canada Open, as well as being crowned both WDF Europe Cup and WDF World Cup Singles champion to become the BDO's number one.

Last summer, he even took the prized scalp of darts legend Phil Taylor in the International Darts League before losing to Gary Anderson in the final.

He won at the Lakeside on only his second attempt, having lost 3-0 in the first round on his debut last year.

But Webster said he needs more time to consider following the same path as Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) runner-up Kirk Shepherd, who quit his job as a sheet-metal worker to concentrate on darts full-time.

"I want to get a qualification in plumbing so that I have something to fall back on," said Webster, who will return to college on Tuesday.

Another half a dozen or a dozen players will come over to the PDC because they want to play darts

PDC chairman Barry Hearn
"Don't get me wrong, I would love to make money out of darts and play darts full-time, but I am realistic and I want something to fall back on if it doesn't work out.

"If you can make a living out of a sport then it is great because I love playing darts, but I know it might not work out that way so I need something else just in case."

Webster said it will be business as usual when he returns to play for his county Clwyd for a match in Gloucestershire next weekend.

If he decides to go full-time, he could be tempted by the rival PDC, which has announced a tournament schedule over the next 12 months offering a combined 4m in prize money.

PDC chairman Barry Hearn said his organisation would welcome finalists Webster and Whitlock to his professional ranks.

"They are both capable players and of course, I'm interested," Hearn told BBC Sport. "Anyone who has ability and ambition is welcome at the PDC.

"I'm not sure whether Mr Webster will carry on as a plumber but if he's going to be a darts player then there's only one place to be.

"We talk to players all the time, but we don't approach anyone. We're in a strong position because we have all the money and all the events."

Last season Mervyn King and Dutchmen Jelle Klassen, Michael van Gerwen and Vincent van der Voort all defected to the lucrative PDC, and Hearn is predicting another exodus.

"There'll be a load of players moving over in the next few weeks," said Hearn. "There always is because once the BDO championships are over, where else do they play for the next nine months?

"There is nothing else and no money. Another half a dozen or a dozen players will come over because they want to play darts."

We've seen a few players leave in the past but it does not have any effect on us at all

BDO spokesman Robert Holmes
But BDO spokesman Robert Holmes told BBC Sport that Welshman Webster is not going anywhere.

"Mark is wallowing in his success and he categorically says he's just not interested in joining the PDC," Holmes said.

"He's proud of his achievement, and of representing Wales and just wants to enjoy this moment."

Holmes said even if the BDO did lose a raft of players then the organisation, which was founded in 1973, would continue to go from strength to strength.

"We've seen a few players leave in the past but it does not have any effect on us at all because we have top players coming through all the time.

"I wish Barry Hearn would get the message, that you have to create and not just go running around with a cheque book."

see also
Lakeside World Darts photos
09 Jan 08 |  Darts

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