World Matchplay: PDC to make decision on July date for Blackpool showpiece

A decision on when the World Matchplay will be played will be made by June 5, as the PDC continues to monitor government regulations around the coronavirus pandemic.

With darts, like most sport in the UK and around the world, suspended amid social distancing guidelines, the Matchplay is currently the next match on the senior schedule, in mid-July.

As it stands, the Pro, Challenge and Development Tours have all been suspended until the end of June, with the PDC’s last statement on April 22 confirming that all events were postponed until the end of next month.

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Blackpool’s iconic Winter Gardens is the venue for the World Matchplay that, as it stands, remains scheduled to get underway on Saturday July 18 and run for more than a week through to the final on Sunday July 26.

However with restrictions on travel and social distancing remaining a key part of the government’s approach, the PDC has confirmed it intends to make a decision as soon as it can, putting a deadline of June 5 for a decision – it is understood a provisional date for the tournament at the same venue is in place for later in the year.

“As with all PDC tournaments at present, we remain in regular contact with the UK Government in relation to updates regarding regulations and are constantly monitoring the global situation,” said a statement from the PDC.

“At present, the 2020 Betfred World Matchplay remains scheduled for July 18-26 at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool, and we continue to work with all relevant parties towards achieving this if possible.

“However, the PDC plans to confirm on or before Friday June 5 a decision in relation to the planned July dates for this event. We appreciate that the current global restrictions give cause for concern amongst fans who have purchased tickets for this event.

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The Winter Gardens announced on Monday that all events scheduled until the end of June would be re-arranged where possible and that beyond June they “continue to work closely and cohesively with promoters and event partners and keep all events that may be affected under constant review”.

So far the entire darting calendar has been shifted into an already busy second half of the season having been suspended since mid-March – the PDC’s Home Tour keeping its Tour Card holders occupied.

The Premier League, suspended after Night Six in Liverpool, is currently set to return in Birmingham on Thursday July 30.

Although with nights in Rotterdam and Amsterdam on the schedule, there may still be change afoot as the countries have set out their own guidelines on massed gatherings through to the end of August, all three nights on the European mainland are set for the first two weeks of September.

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The same can be said of the World Cup, originally slated for Hamburg in June and now assessing other venues for a possible rearranged date later in the year while the majority of the European Tour is now slated for September onwards.

The Pro Tour, which is not played in front of a crowd, is set to resume in September, but chief executive Matt Porter told the Darts Show podcast recently that there could be an avenue for two or three Players Championship events to take place in a week, if government guidance were to allow for a safe step forward.

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