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British Darts Organisation

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The British Darts Organisation (BDO) is a darts organisation founded on 7 January 1973 by Olly Croft, OBE. The BDO is a founder member of the World Darts Federation which was formed in 1976. The BDO comprises 66 member counties in Britain and organises tournaments for amateurs.



The BDO set the rules which govern the game of darts, including the size of the throwing oche (2.37m / 7 ft 9 ¼ inches) and the height and dimensions of the board. The BDO organised the first World Professional Darts Championship in 1978, known for many years as The Embassy – due to its sponsorship by Imperial Tobacco. It is now known as the Lakeside World Professional Darts Championship - or Lakeside for short.

Split in darts

After the World Championship began, televised darts became more prevalent with many major tournaments appearing on ITV and BBC. But by 1984, darts had lost many of its sponsors and only the World Championship remained on television. Some players became frustrated by the lack of opportunity to make a living professionally.

A group of 19 players (including all previous World Champions who were still active in the game) created the World Darts Council (WDC), later the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) towards the end of 1990. They wanted more tournaments to be staged and to appoint a PR consultant to improve the image of the game.

The 1993 Embassy World Championship was the last unified world darts championship. On 7 January 1993, the rebel players issued a joint statement affirming that they would only compete in the 1994 tournament if it was held under the auspices of the WDC. The BDO responded by banning the rebel players from all BDO tournaments. After a long legal battle, the BDO was forced to acknowledge the WDC's legitimacy and the right of players to choose which body they competed for. In return the WDC dropped its claim to being the sport's governing body and renamed itself the Professional Darts Corporation

Since the split

Since there have been two World Championships from 1994 onwards, there have been calls for head-to-head matches between the two Winners. There have been two head-to-head matches between the reigning champions of the two organisations. The challenge matches, held in 1997 and 2001, were officially recognised as undisputed championship matches. In their respective matches, the incumbent BDO champions Raymond van Barneveld and Andy Fordham were defeated by the PDC champion Phil Taylor.

The BDO suffered a blow when the UK government banned tobacco companies from sponsoring sports events in 2003, meaning they lost the financial backing of Embassy, who had supported the World Championships since its inception. The owners of the tournament venue, Lakeside, have stepped in to sponsor the event since 2004.

The BDO have continued to support players from the grassroots of the game since the "split", although there have been several high-profile players who have made a name with the organisation only to later join the PDC.

Raymond van Barneveld's career in the BDO helped boost the popularity of the sport in his home country, the Netherlands. Dutch broadcaster SBS6 has broadcast the World Championship since 1998, and used to show two major BDO tournaments, the International Darts League and World Darts Trophy. Both no longer exist. However, the popularity of the sport has possibly contributed to the Dutch producing more star players, including the 2006 BDO World Champion, Jelle Klaasen, and the 2006 World Masters Champion, Michael van Gerwen.

Exodus of players

Due to the greater prize money available on the PDC tour, an increasing number of BDO players have "defected" to the PDC. Four-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld was the highest profile switch, doing so in 2006. John Part (1997), Richie Burnett (2000), Steve Beaton (2001), Jelle Klaasen (2007), Mark Webster (2009), Ted Hankey (2012), Les Wallace (2013), Christian Kist (2014) and Stephen Bunting (who switched without defending his title, 2014) are the other post-split BDO champions who subsequently switched to the PDC.

BDO number 1 Robert Thornton decided to move to the PDC in May 2008. 2006 Winmau World Masters winner Michael van Gerwen switched without defending his title. Long time BDO player Mervyn King (who once claimed he would never play for the PDC) followed suit a month later. Gary Anderson and Webster were the top two ranked players when they signed with the PDC in January 2009. 2008 Lakeside runner-up Simon Whitlock also signed with the PDC in 2009.

Very few players have moved the other way. 2004 Lakeside champion Andy Fordham moved to the PDC in 2009 and returned to the BDO in 2013. Three time BDO women's champion Anastasia Dobromyslova switched to the PDC in 2008, before returning in 2011. Ted Hankey, after switching to the PDC in 2012, returned to the BDO in 2014.

2011 Annual General Meeting

Prior to the 2011 Annual General Meeting of the BDO, many players and officials within the organisation had expressed increasing degrees of dissatisfaction with the performance of the existing Board of Directors. Particular areas of concern were the BDO's apparent stagnation in terms of creating new televised events and gaining new sponsors. An open letter was circulated to the various counties within the BDO structure, setting out the perceived issues, although the said letter was vague as to actual suggestions for improvement. Matters culminated at the subsequent AGM, where all but one of the incumbent Board were voted out of office (other than Dave Alderman who had already resigned), with only Vic Sexton retaining his seat. Consequently, the Board is now made up of Barry Gilbey (chairman), Martin Adams, Derek Weston, Wayne Williams, Sue Getty and Vic Sexton.

Major tournaments

BDO Events Ltd is the new commercial arm of the BDO (British Darts Organisation) and was set up in 2013. The annual BDO Major events comprises the following British televised events:

World Professional Championship

The World Championship is the biggest of the tournaments, held at the Lakeside Country Club, Frimley Green, UK. The tournament started in 1978 and for the first 15 years it was a unified World Championship, before a separate competition (the PDC World Championship) began in 1994. There have been 24 different winners of the event and Eric Bristow is the player with the most BDO World titles including a hat-trick between 1984 and 1986. Raymond van Barneveld matched his overall haul of five world titles when he won the PDC version in 2007. Phil Taylor has also won the PDC title 14 times to bring his tally to 16 world titles.

Winmau World Masters

The World Masters is the longest running BDO major title having started as far back as 1978. It is the second biggest major title on the BDO stage. Having been first staged in Fulham, the tournament has been to Wembley, Earls Court, Kensington, the Lakeside Country Club and others but has settled in Brighton since 2002.

The tournament features shorter sets than the World Championship - each set is the best of three legs instead of five at Lakeside. In the 40-year history of the event, only 7 players have managed to win the title on more than one occasion. Eric Bristow holds the record for most tournament wins with five. Bob Anderson and Martin Adams hold the record of winning the title three years running 86, 87, 88 for Anderson and 08, 09, 10 for Adams. Only 14 players have won both the Masters and World titles in their career.

The BDO World Trophy

The BDO World Trophy is the Newest "Major" Darts tournament added to the BDO’s events calendar from 2014 onwards, organized by the BDO Events - the new commercial arm of the British Darts Organisation.

Former major tournaments

  • WDF World Cup (1977-2011)
  • International Darts League (2003–07)
  • Topic International Darts League

    The Topic International Darts League was a tournament staged in the Netherlands and formed the second leg of the Grand Slam having been introduced in 2003. Whilst its format has evolved in recent years, it features players competing in a round-robin tournament. The 2006 event featured 32 players in 8 groups of 4, which were then reduced to 4 further groups of 4. The top two in each group then went through to the knockout stages.

    When Raymond van Barneveld switched to the PDC in 2006, the tournament organisers agreed with the BDO to invite four players from the rival organisation. Van Barneveld (PDC) went on to win the title for the third time in 2006 and Gary Anderson (BDO) won the 2007 event. This remains the only major event to date that Phil Taylor hasn't won in either the BDO or PDC.

    Bullit World Darts Trophy

    The World Darts Trophy (WDT) was the third BDO major of the year and the second to be held in the Netherlands. Its straight knock-out format is comparable to the two versions of the World Championship.

    The WDT followed the International Darts League by inviting four PDC players to the tournament in 2006, and again a PDC player (Phil Taylor) won the title.

    British Gold Cup

    The British Gold Cup began in 1978 and was held in Stoke. It was broadcast on BBC until 1982, with the 1983 tournament blacked out due to a technician's strike. It was then broadcast in 2008 on Setanta Sports in the UK, After a brief stint on the short-lived channel Wire TV (94-95).

    1978 John Lowe beat Colin Baker 1979 John Lowe beat Tony Ridler 1980 Eric Bristow beat John Lowe 1981 Tony Skuse 1982 John Lowe 1983 Bob Anderson beat Paul Reynolds 1984 Cliff Lazarenko 1985 Dave Lee 1986 Bob Anderson 1987 Dave Harrold 1988 Chris Whiting 1989 Chris Johns 1990 Rod Harrington 1991 Dennis Priestley 1992 Dennis Priestley 1993 Shayne Burgess 1994 Mike Gregory 1995 Mervyn King 1996 Paul Whitworth 1997 Sean Palfrey 1998 Peter Johnstone Beat Peter Manley 1999 Ted Hankey Beat Martin Adams 2000 Lee Savage 2001 Richie Burnett 2002 Tony Eccles 2003 Brian Shropshire 2004 Ritchie Davies 2005 Derek Williams 2006 Gary Anderson 2007 Dave Chisnall 2008 Scott Waites 2009 Paul Brookes 2010 Andy Beardmore 2011 Ross Montgomery 2012 Stephen Bunting 2013 Paul Hogan 2014 Wayne Warren 2015 Glen Durrant

    British Professional Championship

    The Unipart British Professional Championship was a tournament televised by the BBC between 1981 and 1988. After the 1988 championships, the BBC withdrew their coverage of the event and it left UK terrestrial television with only one televised tournament - the World Championships. The game was at an all-time low and players eventually went on to set up the World Darts Council in an attempt to bring back sponsors and television.

    Jocky Wilson won the title a record four times - John Lowe also reached four finals but lost them all.

    British Matchplay

    The British Matchplay ran from 1976 to 1983 with a brief revival in 1986. The tournament was broadcast on the ITV network in 1978, but usually broadcast regionally including Anglia Television in 1977 and Central in 1986.

    Bullseye Darts Championship

    Not to be confused with the long-running game show Bullseye, this was a BBC2 tournament which ran for three years during the peak of darts boom period at the turn of the eighties. Jocky Wilson was twice the winner.

    Butlins Grand Masters

    ATV broadcast the Butlins Grand Masters between 1977 and 1988. Matches were played over the best of nine legs. The tournament was held at a pub in Birmingham. Bobby George was twice the winner and Eric Bristow won a hat-trick of titles.

    World Matchplay

    The MFI World Matchplay championship was short-lived but historic in darts as it featured the first ever televised nine dart finish on 13 October 1984 when John Lowe won £102,000 for the perfect game of darts against Keith Deller. Lowe went on to win the title that year. The tournament was broadcast on ITV and originally came from the Fulcrum Centre, Slough before switching to Festival Hall, Basildon. ITV ceased coverage after the 1988 championships and the tournament ended. ITV also pulled coverage of the World Masters after the 1988 event, leaving the BBC as the only broadcaster of darts until 1992.

    The PDC introduced a new version of the World Matchplay in 1994 (see main article World Matchplay)


    British Darts Organisation Wikipedia