World Championship could move from Alexandra Palace after ‘Luke Littler effect’

Hearn has likened the 17-year-old to Tiger Woods and says he is “the gift that keeps on giving” after bursting onto the scene and taking darts into the mainstream.

After announcing his arrival with a record-breaking run to the World Championship final at Christmas, Littler followed it up by winning the Premier League last week and is now one of the most famous sports stars in the country.

Ally Pally has hosted the premier tournament since 2008 and is considered the home of the sport, but the 3,200-capacity venue is limited and tickets sell out in July before even hitting general sale.

Ally Pally has been the spiritual home of darts since 2008 (Steven Paston/PA)

Matchroom president Hearn, who is facing a similar dilemma in snooker with the Crucible, is considering extending the size of the tournament, but insists the Professional Darts Corporation is keeping its options open.

“Do we need to move to a bigger venue? The bigger hall at Ally Pally needs a lot of work done to it but it could handle 6,000 people per session,” Hearn told the PA news agency.

“So there is the potential. But the other side of it is the game of darts around the world is getting so huge I actually need to make the World Championship longer.

“If I have got eight extra sessions I have got 25,000 more tickets to sell. But inevitably in the end we are going to be looking at what we are going to do.

“It is one step at a time, I am not a gambler, but sometimes you get a curveball like Luke Littler and you have to rethink your strategy.

Luke Littler
Luke Littler took Ally Pally by storm at Christmas (Zac Goodwin/PA)

“We reckon we could sell 250,000 tickets for the World Championship and they wouldn’t fit in the Ally Pally.

“It’s one step at a time, we are looking at the big hall but it needs a lot of work done. We are keeping our options open because we have learned with Luke Littler that you sometimes can’t see what is coming.

“It’s under discussion with everybody.”

Littler has already transcended the sport, appearing on Saturday night chat shows and high-profile podcasts while also presenting a Brit Award.

Hearn is confident Littler can take darts to “another level in the stratosphere”.

“This is going to a level we have not come across before,” he added.

“Darts is a massive business, but we have gone to another level in the stratosphere. It’s not a massive surprise but it’s the best 2024 present I could have asked for.

“I have had broadcasters around the world queuing up, sponsors wanting to see what’s available, reports from future events selling out.

“Rather than it peter out, it is gaining momentum. I call it now the Luke Littler effect, the gift that keeps on giving.

“I would compare him to the British version of Tiger Woods. He has his feet on the ground and doesn’t seem to get phased, for a 17-year-old that is just amazing.

“I just think that darts hasn’t even started in where it is going to go globally.

“I have been in this business for 50 years and I have never seen anything like this in any sport, it’s as simple as that.”

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