PDC Darts: World Matchplay to be held in Milton Keynes behind closed doors | Darts News

Paul Prenderville

Comment & Analysis @paulprenders

Watch coverage of the World Matchplay on Sky Sports – all nine days from the Marshall Arena live, starting on Saturday July 18

Last Updated: 01/07/20 4:01pm

Rob Cross won his maiden World Matchplay at the Winter Gardens last year – but this year’s event will be held behind closed doors in Milton Keynes

For the very first time in its history, the World Matchplay will not be held at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens, the big event will take place behind closed doors in Milton Keynes.

Darts has been paused because the coronavirus pandemic has halted much of world sport, but with the action beginning to filter back, the PDC has confirmed the next thing in its return.

There had been a hope that the prestigious Matchplay, the year’s second-biggest tournament, could go ahead in front of a small crowd, in a controlled environment in Blackpool at the event’s spiritual home.

However, in the end avenues were explored with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Blackpool Council, the Winter Gardens and other stakeholders that has been deemed not possible and the protected, enclosed facilities at the Marshall Arena will house the tournament.

It has held two snooker events – the Championship League and the Tour Championship – and certainly will now host darts for 14 days of competitive action this month, with the Summer Series also set for the venue.

Matchplay was first played in 1994 when American Larry Butler became the very first of just eight players to win the title. The trophy is named following the legendary Phil Taylor who won the tournament 16 times.

“This is an unprecedented step for us to take and this tough decision has been made only after exhausting all possible options in a bid to stage the Betfred World Matchplay with a limited crowd in Blackpool,” said PDC chief executive Matt Porter.

“We thank the DCMS for his or her co-operation through the process plus the Winter Gardens and Blackpool Council, who remained committed to hosting the event through the process.

“Whilst this will be disappointing for the a large number of fans who had planned to watch the 2020 Betfred World Matchplay live in Blackpool, we shall be offering those fans the chance to defer their tickets to 2021, once the tournament may return to its spiritual home.”

Milton Keynes' Marshall Arena will host five Players Championship events from July 8-12 and also the World Matchplay

Milton Keynes’ Marshall Arena will host several Players Championship events coming from July 8-12 and also the World Matchplay

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The draw for your tournament will be held at on Sunday July 12, after the previous of five times of competition in the Summer Series, five Players Championship occasions held behind closed doors at the same location from July 8-12 which will be the very last chance to qualify for the particular Matchplay.

It will also stand for a chance for the particular PDC to assess the problems at the Marshall Arena in front of nine times of action, to visit on Sky Sports coming from Saturday July 18, via until the ultimate on Sunday July 26.

The six-week PDC Home Tour kept participants active in non-competitive activity during the postponement, interruption but the go back of placed events, and today the sport’s second ‘major’ signal a new resumption in play he was put on keep after Night Six in the Premier League in March.

Darts earnings to Sky Sports in July, together with nine times of coverage from your World Matchplay getting ongoing on Saturday, July 16, and every day time until the ultimate on Sunday, July 24.