Blackpool’s Winter Gardens is on course to welcome back darts fans for July’s popular Betfred World Matchplay following confirmation that the event is being planned for a capacity crowd.
The Covid-19 pandemic meant that the prestigious World Matchplay, usually attended by thousands of fans at the Winter Gardens, had to be held behind closed doors in Milton Keynes.
However, with restrictions continuing to ease across the UK, the Professional Darts Corporation have revealed their hopes or the event to be able to welcome a 2,000 crowd for each of ten sessions from July 17-25.
Fans who had purchased tickets for the 2020 event saw their booking moved to 2021, with the remaining tickets on sale through SeeTickets.
“So far the information we have is that if that June 21 deadline with the lifting of all social restrictions is met, then we will be at the Winter Gardens in the middle of July with no limits whatsoever,” said PDC Chief Executive Matt Porter.
“That’s great because we’ve got thousands of ticket holders from last year and we hope that they’ll be joined by thousands more people all coming to remind themselves what a great night they can have at the darts.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has proven a huge test for the PDC since March 2020, but Porter praised the response which has enabled tournaments to continue mainly behind closed doors during that time.
“I’ve been doing this for the best part of 20 years and it’s without doubt the biggest challenge that myself and probably anybody in a similar position would have faced during that period,” admitted Porter.
“It’s unprecedented, it was unknown, we didn’t know when we might be able to come out of it and we didn’t know how we’d come out of it.
“It has been a challenge but the way that everybody’s responded – the staff, our partners, the players especially – is something we can be very proud of.”
Crowds will return to darts events for the first time in 2021 at this month’s Unibet Premier League from May 24-28, before focus switches to July’s hugely popular World Matchplay.
Belgium’s Dimitri Van den Bergh won the 2020 World Matchplay in Milton Keynes, with Rob Cross being the last player to lift the Phil Taylor Trophy in Blackpool with his 2019 success.