Darts chiefs gave in to Luke Littler pressure as teenager's impact on sport laid bare

Darts chiefs gave in to Luke Littler pressure as teenager's impact on sport laid bare

WATCH NOW: Luke Littler reacts to hitting a nine-darter earlier this year

Lewis Winter

By Lewis Winter

Published: 02/04/2024

- 19:13

The 17-year-old has made a sensational rise since emerging late last year

Eddie Hearn has revealed that he had to persuade members of the PDC board to pick Luke Littler as a Premier League wildcard.

The teenager was chosen alongside three other wildcards for the four-month-long competition to join the top four in the world rankings.

Littler burst onto the scene at the World Darts Championship in December at the age of 16, beating two former world champions on his way to the final.

World No 1 Luke Humphries had too much for the youngster in the final, winning 7-4 to cement his new status as the best player on the planet.

Luke Littler

Luke Littler's emergence saw darts chiefs give in to pressure to pick him in the Premier League


Littler has since proven his performances at Alexandra Palace were no flash in the pan.

He has already won three PDC tournaments, hitting a nine-darter in each, and is second in the Premier League after nine nights.

But Hearn, chairman of the PDC, says he had to persuade members of the board to pick Littler.

He claims there were doubts from some members as to whether Littler would be ready to face the rigours of the weekly tournament.

Hearn told Piers Morgan Uncensored: "You would have enjoyed the moment he burst onto the scene in the World Championships.

"During that period, the PDC board make their final selection about the Premier League, which is our weekly roadshow around the UK and now Europe as well.

"At this point, Luke had just got into the semi-finals and we said, 'You've got to put Luke Littler in.'

"There was a lot of members of the board who really care deeply about darts who said, 'Now we have a duty to protect this young man'.

"'He's 16, do we really want to be putting him under that pressure and on this stage, week in, week out?'

"And our answer was, 'Yeah, absolutely, sling him in.'"

There is no doubt that Littler has attracted a whole new audience to darts since his emergence.

Hearn says the sport is only second to Premier League football for the broadcasters in the UK.


Luke Littler

Luke Littler has taken the world of darts to a new level


He added: "We're seeing our viewing figures, the one thing is darts is continuously disrespected really as a sport.

"The viewing figures are second only to Premier League football, and actually during the World Championship, they were on the same level as Premier League football

"No other sport, you go and look at these viewing figures, the tennis, the golf on Sky versus darts."

Littler rested at the weekend as his fellow Premier League rivals competed at the German Darts Grand Prix.

Luke Littler

Luke Littler has already won three PDC tournaments and sits second in the Premier League


He failed to gain entry for the event in Munich at a qualifier back in February.

Littler still benefited from the tournament, moving up two places in the PDC rankings.

He now sits 26th having moved above Brendan Dolan and Jose de Sousa.

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