Hearn outlines darts growth
The PDC have outlined their plans for the next few years with chairman Barry Hearn announcing a rise in prize money next year to £7 million.
Over 100 PDC stars and representatives of the PDPA met with Hearn ahead of Sunday's Players Championship at Dublin's Citywest Hotel, where Hearn confirmed that prize money will continue to rise in 2014, as he expects £7 million to be on offer across the PDC circuit.
With the introduction of a separate PDC Unicorn Youth Tour, for players aged 16-21, and Challenge Tour for players who compete at Qualifying School but do not win a full PDC Tour Card, a route through to the full PDC ProTour has been established for players looking to break through.
"In the last ten years, darts has enjoyed a growth that I've never experienced in any other sport throughout my career," said Hearn.
"Prize money ten years ago was somewhere around £500,000 per year. In 2012 it was £5.1 million, in 2013 it's £6.4 million and in 2014 it will be something in excess of £7 million - and we're well on our way to my main target, which is to have £10 million prize money, and we will achieve that.
"We're now building a structure, from the Youth Tour to Qualifying School, and if you get your Tour Card you've got every opportunity to change your life. If you don't, you go back on the Challenge Tour.
"I'm very proud of the structure we've created, and it is a business built on opportunity. We are creating an opportunity for players to change their lives through the success they achieve.
"Because of the entertainment that our players provide, which is so well captured on TV, we're opening new markets worldwide. As soon as people see darts on television, the want to go and see it live, and we've already sold over 40,000 tickets for the World Championship and will sell 100,000 tickets for the 2014 Premier League Darts.
"This is a phenomenon and I want the players to enjoy the moment and appreciate the memories. It's not easy because the rewards are fantastic, and the potential is amazing - we have no limit to where we can go.
"We are a major international, global sport and we should be proud of what we've achieved. I couldn't be prouder to be the PDC Chairman and I look forward to being around for as long as I can enjoying the amazing entertainment our players are delivering."
There will be changes on the circuit including the Grand Slam of Darts becoming a ranking event in 2015 with a new qualification criteria being announced after this year's event, which is live on Sky Sports, concludes in November.
The ever-growing Premier League Darts will again feature ten players and again it will be the top four in the PDC world rankings and six wildcards.