The Professional Darts Corporation can confirm that the 2020 Betfred World Matchplay will not take place at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool, and will instead be played behind closed doors at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes from July 18-26.
The PDC held extensive talks with the UK Government’s Department of Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), the venue, host broadcaster Sky Sports and other stakeholders in an attempt to find a safe solution for the World Matchplay to be staged at the Winter Gardens.
However, with this not being possible the tournament will now - for the first time since being introduced in 1994 - be played behind closed doors, with the Marshall Arena being able to provide a protected environment to ensure the safe staging of the event.
“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 their co-operation throughout the process and also the Winter Gardens and Blackpool Council, who remained committed to hosting the event throughout the process.
“Whilst this will be disappointing for the thousands of fans who had planned to watch the 2020 Betfred World Matchplay live in Blackpool, we will be offering those fans the chance to defer their tickets to 2021, when the tournament will return to its spiritual home.”
Existing ticket bookings for the 2020 Betfred World Matchplay will be transferred to the equivalent session of the 2021 event, which is planned to be held from July 17-25. Alternatively, fans can request a refund of their ticket base price from their point of purchase.
The 2020 World Matchplay will take place on its originally scheduled dates of July 18-26 and will be the first fully televised PDC tournament to take place following the suspension of events due to the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic.
The PDC Summer Series will see the sport’s stars return to action from July 8-12 in Milton Keynes for a series of five one-day Players Championship events, with coverage being streamed through PDCTV from 1200 BST on each day.