2006 Ladbrokes.com World Darts Championship

THE Professional Darts Corporation is delighted to announce that the 2006 Ladbrokes.com World Darts Championship will be the biggest in the history of the event - boasting a record prize fund of £500,000.

In an exciting development for the sport of darts, 64 of the best players from around the world will converge on the Circus Tavern, Purfleet, Essex, for the 13th staging of the PDC World Championship. Phil Taylor, 12-time World Champion and current holder of the title, is the 4/5 favourite for the event with the sponsor, Ladbrokes.com.

The total prize fund for the tournament has been increased to £500,000 - with £100,000 to the winner, a growth of 66 percent on 2005.

The size of the tournament will also expand from 48 to 64 players, with eight additional places being awarded to both qualifiers from the Professional Darts Players Association and international representatives.

"Make no mistake about it, this is massive news for darts," said PDC chairman Barry Hearn.

"We are extremely grateful to the event's sponsors Ladbrokes.com for their continued backing which has helped us to introduce this substantial prize fund increase and to our broadcast partner Sky Sports for their fantastic production of the event.

"We already offer our players the biggest and best tournaments, and this announcement will only increase our standing as the only organisation that's serious about taking the game forward both in the UK and around the world."

John O'Reilly, Managing Director of Ladbrokes eGaming, added: "Darts continues to grow in popularity, and that's been reflected in the growth in betting on the World Championship during our sponsorship.

"This is the most prestigious event in the darts calendar and it gives us great pleasure to attach the name of the World's biggest bookmaker to World's biggest and best darts championship."

The top 32 players in the PDC World Rankings will join the 16 PDPA qualifiers and 16 international players in the first round of the championship, which will begin on Monday December 19.

Ladbrokes bets as follows on the tournament: Phil Taylor 4/5 Favourite, Colin Lloyd 7/1, Mark Dudbridge 8/1, Wayne Mardle 10/1, John Part 16/1, Chris Mason 25/1, Roland Scholten 33/1, Ronnie Baxter 33/1, Kevin Painter 40/1, Peter Manley 50/1, Bar 100/1 (correct as of June 7).

Ladbrokes is also offering 8/1 on a 9-dart checkout in the Championship.

The first round matches, over the best of five sets, will be completed on Thursday December 22.

The second round begins on Boxing Day, Monday December 26, with play then continuing through to the final on Monday January 2 2006.

The event will be televised live in its entirety on Sky Sports with highlights syndicated around the world to countries including the USA, China, Australia, South Africa and Holland.