Could the darts DITCH Ally Pally? World No 5 Gerwyn Price suggests ‘the tournament needs to have a new home now’, with Alexandra Palace’s contract expiring next year
- Player cited crowd partisanship as well as growth of the sport in his reasoning
- Price will begin the fight for a second world championship versus Connor Schutt
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World No 5 Gerwyn Price has suggested that the World Darts Championship should move away from its iconic Alexandra Palace venue.
The festive competition has been hosted at the north London venue since 2007, and the Ally Pally has become near-inextricable from the competition.
Alexandra Palace welcomes 90,000 fans over the course of the tournament, which will reach its thrilling conclusion on January 3, who will famously sport fancy dress and chant songs whilst taking in the drama of the competition.
But Price – who lifted the Sid Waddell Trophy in 2021 – has argued that the sport may be better served visiting an array of venues, as in a raft of other disciplines such as football and cricket.
The 38-year-old told the Sun that the possibility of untapped commercial markets could also raise the sport’s profile.
Gerwyn Price has argued that the World Darts Championship should move away from Ally Pally
The iconic venue is closely tied to the competition, which is known for its raucous atmosphere
‘I think it’s only right. That’s what happens with other sports,’ the ‘Iceman’ explained.
‘You should have equal rights that the tournament goes to different parts of the world. And then I think I’ll have a bit of a better chance of winning!
‘Germany is becoming a huge market for the PDC and darts is growing immensely all over Europe.
‘Maybe move it to Germany, Holland, Ireland, Scotland, Wales or Belgium. I don’t see any reason why they can’t do it.
‘I know they have the history with Ally Pally, but times move on, things change.’
Price referenced the competition’s previous venue, the Circus Tavern in Purfleet, Essex, which hosted the tournament between 1994 and 2007, and how the tournament has moved on since them, adding: ‘Maybe you could have it two years in London, two years in Holland, two years in Germany, then two years in Wales.’
Price has a fractious relationship with the venue, sporting ear defenders at the last tournament as he sought to win a second consecutive title during his quarter-final against Gabriel Clemens.
He had previously admitted that he disliked the venue saying that he would rather ‘win every other major and not even go to the Ally Pally’.
Price controversially wore ear defenders during his quarter-final defeat to Gabriel Clemens
The World No 5 won the tournament in 2021 – when the audience was banned due to Covid
Price was later banned from wearing the ear defenders during the tie, which he lost.
The player also added that home fan bias could be impacting foreign players against British opponents – and that moving the contest could see them harness the power of the ground in the same way.
Citing the example of Stoke-born Adrian Lewis’ win in 2011 versus the Scottish Gary Anderson, Price continued: ‘If that final was played in Scotland, Gary probably wins.
‘Ally Pally isn’t the biggest venue by any means – it doesn’t hold as many fans as some of the Premier League venues.
‘The game is getting bigger, there are bigger venues out there, so it’s possible to have a change.
‘Whether the PDC are willing to do that, with the history of Ally Pally, I don’t know,’ Price added.
‘German Ricardo Pietreczko is a fantastic player and won his first European Tour event in his home country. Then you have Luke Humphries winning his first major in front of English crowds.
‘I won the Premier League night in Cardiff. There is the effect of a home crowd and it does help. It’s only fair that it gets moved about a bit.’
But Price’s team-mate Jonny Clayton argued that the venue’s location was a major selling point for the flagship competition.
The venue will host the tournament until at least 2024/25 after signing a new four-year deal
Price’s team-mate Jonny Clayton said the tournament was ‘meant to be’ at its current location
‘Logistically it’s easier for everyone to get into and out of London at Christmas, whether that’s players or fans,’ Clayton said. ‘Maybe the World Cup of Darts could move each year to the country that’s defending it.
‘I know where Gezzy’s coming from, and I wouldn’t mind playing in front of a Welsh crowd at the World Championship. But I think it’s just meant to be at Ally Pally.’
Alexandra Palace announced a few four-year deal to host the competition in July 2021, which will see the location host the contest until at least the end of next year.
Price is primed to step up to the oche in his second-round tie on Monday night when he faces Connor Schutt, who is ranked 71st.
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