Michael van Gerwen backs World Championship in Saudi after Littler ‘talks’ | Other | Sport

Michael van Gerwen has backed proposals to move the most iconic tournament in darts to Saudi Arabia. The Alexandra Palace has become the home of the PDC World Championship since 2008, and the venue has since become famed for its raucous atmosphere and fanatical support for players during matches.

But the prospect of the London arena continuing to stage the event every December and January has been thrown into jeopardy by ex-PDC chairman Barry Hearn, who has admitted he would be open to a move to the Middle East.

Hearn has claimed that the incredible impact of Luke Littler, who has been credited for attracting a new audience to the sport since his fairytale run to the final on debut, has opened his eyes to a new opportunity to expand.

“Sometimes you get a curveball like Luke Littler and you have to rethink your strategy,” he admitted this week. “We reckon we could sell 250,000 tickets for the World Championship (In Saudi) 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.”

And now three-time world champion Van Gerwen has added further fuel to the fire. The Dutchman has cited the examples of other sports where professionals have made lucrative sums by competing in Saudi.

“It will be great, I think,” he told the Daily Mail. “They wanna make sports big in that country. You saw the big boxing games there, the football there. For me, I don’t mind where I play. I will be competing, and that’s how it is.

‘MVG’ isn’t the only top player to come out in support of a possible move. Gerwyn Price took to Instagram last week to voice his support, claiming a lesser atmosphere would actually benefit players. Maybe it’s the way forward, less drunken hooligans that aren’t fans, causing fights, that turn up once in a blue moon.

“It spoils/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.”

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