Darts will get as big as golf thanks to party atmosphere with blokes in bras

Darts is set to become as big as golf thanks to its fun fanbase of fancy dress blokes in “bras and panties”, according to sports guru Barry Hearn.

The promoter and owner of the Professional Darts Corporation – aka PDC – reckons the game is about to go global and become a major sporting player in the Middle East and US.

Baz has already grown it into a thriving £42million-a-year business. And he cannot wait for it to follow boxing by becoming a huge hit across Arab nations.

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“We set about it like our snooker business where we created a party atmosphere with a sports event happening within it,’’ Hearn said.

“Today you will find 6ft 5in muscular dockers walking up towards Alexandra Palace in bras and panties.

“Where are you going to find that in any event in the world?”

When Hearn, 75, went to his first World Darts Championship in Purfleet, Essex, he found it a small and seedy’ affair. Two decades later the tournament has become part of Christmas, drawing an audience of tens of thousands of partying fans in fancy dress to the Grade II listed sports venue, dubbed the ‘Ally Pally’.

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The darts explosion happened after Hearn decided to turn it into a 'party with a sports event happening within it’.

Cash has flowed into the game ever since with its annual revenue rocketing from £13m 10 years ago £42.6m last year (2022) and profits up from £1.9m to £12.3m. Ticket sales account for 35% of the income with the World Darts Championships alone expected to have a turnover of more than £4m this year (2023).

It is already more profitable than boxing, snooker and pool. The best players now make £2m-a-year.

Now it is looking to storm into the Middle East, North America, Canada and south-east Asia. ”Darts is going from strength to strength to strength,” Hearn said.

“And I see this as the beginning. It's going to end up as the working man’s golf because it’s accessible and it’s diverse.”

PDC chief executive Matt Porter said: “We've had substantial growth over the last several years mainly due to an increased international footprint.

“We've expanded into a lot of new territories and that’s been coupled with the continued growth in popularity of darts here in the UK and our core markets in the Netherlands and Germany.”

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