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  Saturday, 20 July, 2002, 22:17 GMT 23:17 UK
The great darts divide
Taylor
Phil Taylor - left the BDO in 1994
Ever wondered why there are two World Championships in darts? BBC Sport Online's Peter Sanderson takes a look behind the scenes.

After a couple too many ales at the Lakeside Country Club, you could be forgiven for getting your sums wrong.

However, in the sport where the professionals make Carol Vorderman's mathematics look mediocre, you'd expect someone to ask the organisers why there are two World Championships, when there is clearly only one world?


All the best darts is played in the Embassy, as the statistics undoubtedly prove
Robert Holmes of the BDO
Well, after a chat with the men in the know, it appears the great divide began in 1993.

Eight years on, the sport continues to play out two different world competitions.

Arrows enthusiasts claim the divide hasn't effected the sport as badly as they initially feared, but, in all honesty, why would they complain about being awarded an extra tournament to watch on television?

However, what they won't tell you is that they are dying to see how Phil "The Power" Taylor would fare if the two bodies amalgamated.

So how did the split first rear its ugly head?

Well, if you listen to the rumours flying around the oche, you'll get a million reasons for the great divide.

Perhaps the most plausible explanation is that the big names in the sport in 1994 decided they wanted darts to receive more television coverage.

Foundations

Among the so-called rebels were Jocky Wilson, Eric Bristow, John Lowe, Bob Anderson and of course Taylor - but things didn't quite work out how they initially expected.

The new group, which was originally called the Professional Darts Council (PDC), struck a deal with Sky to cover three championships a year.

Lowe
John Lowe - one of the old guard
However the BDO, who run the Embassy World Championship which is screened on the BBC, refused to listen to the rumours that the new group would lead to the demise of the the traditional tournaments.

Instead, they looked to build on the foundations they already had built up during their years of existence.

After the initial threat, the organisation has gone from strength to strength overall, breaking all the old records set by Lowe, Bristow and Wilson, offering huge amounts of prize money and, statistically at least, out-performing their rival event, the Skol World Darts Championships.

But the tournament did suffer a heavy blow recently when six leading darts players, including Ronnie Baxter and Steve Beaton, turned down the chance to compete in the British Darts Organisation's January event.

Instead, the players, which also contained Chris Mason, Peter Manley, Andy Jenkins and Kevin Painter, will compete in the rival PDC event.

Steve Beaton
Beaton moved over to the PDC in November
Olly Croft, director of the BDO, played down the loss and insisted they would have made little impact on the Embassy event.

"The players they (the PDC) took probably wouldn't get past the first round of the Embassy," said Croft.

And he added that the move did not signal a major shift away from the BDO by the players.

"We're not that concerned really," said Croft. "The PDC have apparently said that they intend to see off the BDO in 12 months.

"They have taken just six players, we've still got another 25,000."

Good deal

Despite the war of words, Croft has insisted that the rivalry between the two establishments is overexaggerated.

He said: "It was a shame when the 14 players moved to the PDC, but they wanted to do their own thing.

"But we feel we offer a good deal for all our players in terms of prize money and the vast number of events we hold.

"Not only do we offer players from 54 different countries the chance to compete in around 800 events, we also give the lads from the PDC the chance to compete in our events.

Robert Holmes, the BDO's public relations consultant, added: "Taylor was one of a breakaway group in 1994 and there is no doubt that he is a phenomenal player.

"However, all the best darts is played in the Embassy, as the statistics undoubtedly prove."

It may have its knockers, but this year the Skol has proved more successful than ever before, largely thanks the involvement of Canadian Gayl King, who became the first woman to play in the tournament.

And the addition of six big names will boost the end of December tournament even more.

But sadly for the sport, it remains unlikely that the two bodies will ever merge to form one world championship again.

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20 Jul 02 | World Darts Championship 2002
20 Jul 02 | World Darts Championship 2002
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