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Article: The Joker quits the PDC

The Joker quits the PDC

News that veteran darter John Ferrell has decided to quit the PDC was hardly likely to have made Sky Sports news - with all respect to ^The Joker^ it will not even rock the world of darts, however the reasons behind his decision should give the hierarchy at Mascalls food for thought. Ferrell ranked 82 at the time of writing has decided to put his darts in his pocket and walk away from the PDC oche due to the spiralling costs of playing that organisation^s circuit. It costs an estimated 12k to play for 12 months in the PDC and only the very best can justify such an outlay. Barry Hearn is working hard to see that the PDC cake is eventually worth 10 million in prize money a year - an appetising prospect. However Ferrell^s defection - with more rumoured to follow, indicates that the PDC cake has not so much got bigger, but merely had more cream dolloped on it. The likes of the imperious Philip Taylor and the crown prince James Wade can look forward to a royal banquet courtesy of Mr Hearn, unfortunately those ranked only a dozen or so places lower will be left picking up crumbs.

Those seeking solace within the BDO ranks will find a less costly circuit to play - however only because there is hardly a circuit at all. The Lakeside and Winmau tournaments remain, as both prestigious and potentially lucrative targets for any aspiring arrowsmith. Beyond that, a BDO registered player has about as much to look forward to as a HBOS bank teller has when reporting for work at the moment. With the credit crunch set to affect potential sponsorship for both players and tournaments, the future for those in the game not at the very top does not look rosy.

It would be a tragedy for darts to lose recent momentum. The game has made amazing strides in the last 5 years - with Mr Hearn - arguably ^The Daddy^ of British sports promoters acheiving what once seemed the impossible - making darts not only popular but sexy. However following it^s makeover, is the game now a sleek sexy super model. Or is it merely the same sweating boozy old slapper that it became pre the PDC - but with a fresh bit of lippy and mascara on ? Messrs Taylor and Wade may say the former - players ranked slightly down the pecking order may say the latter.

Mr Hearn will say that he has done an incredible job re-inventing darts - and he has, he will also add that as a result of his endeavours the money is there and if you^re good enough you^ll become a millionaire. His rival - Mr Croft runs an organisation with honourable intentions - sadly those do not help pay darts players bills. The perfect solution would be for both to get together to work out a structure that ensures that not only the very best - rightly pick up the six figure cheques, but those less blessed - but still talented may at least carve a living from the game. Sadly that is unlikely to happen and whilst that is the case the recent development in professional darts may suffer. In fact one imagines there is more chance of Gordon Brown and David Cameron having a few beers together at Spearmint Rhino than Messrs Hearn and Croft - two talented and passionate men breaking bread and smoothing out the cracks that may now appear in the great game of darts. John Ferrell will not be the last to call it a day on the professional darts circuit. People come - people go. However, it is to be hoped that the reasons behind his decision will not be a factor in others following suit. ^The Joker^ may have gone but those organising the game must ensure that more than just an elite remain smiling.


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