Luke Littler fuels talks among darts chiefs as Barry Hearn thrown ‘curveball’ | Other | Sport

Matchroom Sport chief Barry Hearn claims that ‘discussions’ are taking place to move the World Darts Championship away from Alexandra Palace in an effort to accommodate more spectators. Teenage sensation Luke Littler has attracted a wave of new fans to the sport, which could see it break away from the intimate venue that has hosted darts’ showpiece event since 2008.

Darts TV audience records were smashed when Littler, who was 16 at the time, made it to the world final in January. The prodigious talent has since kicked on by beating seven of the sport’s top competitors in the Premier League.

Affectionately known as Ally Pally, the 3,200-seater venue has hosted the world championship for the past 16 years. Tickets were quick to sell out even before Littler burst onto the scene, and seats at the 2025 tournament at the end of the year are expected to be even trickier to come by.

Speaking to PA, former PDC chief Hearn has explained that Littler’s emergence is a ‘curveball’ which must be considered carefully – whether that means moving to a bigger venue inside Ally Pally, or seeking out a new arena altogether.

“Do we need to move to a bigger venue? The bigger hall at Ally Pally needs a lot of work done to it but it could handle 6,000 people per session,” he told PA. “So there is the potential. But the other side of it is the game of darts around the world is getting so huge I actually need to make the World Championship longer.

“If I have got eight extra sessions I have got 25,000 more tickets to sell. But inevitably in the end we are going to be looking at what we are going to do. It is one step at a time, I am not a gambler, but sometimes you get a curveball like Luke Littler and you have to rethink your strategy.

“We reckon we could sell 250,000 tickets for the World Championship and they wouldn’t fit in the Ally Pally. It’s one step at a time, we are looking at the big hall but it needs a lot of work done. We are keeping our options open because we have learned with Luke Littler that you sometimes can’t see what is coming. It’s under discussion with everybody.”

In a matter of months, Littler has gone from an unknown to amassing more than a million Instagram followers, appearing on high-profile chat shows and presenting a Brit award.

The 17-year-old has also racked up more than £600,000 in prize money, with a third of that won at the World Darts Championship and nearly half coming from his Premier League triumph at London’s O2 Arena last week.

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