A 38-year relationship between BBC Sport and the famous Lakeside darts tournament has come to an end, after the Corporation declined to renew its contract with professional body the British Darts Organisation (BDO).
The BBC has screened the annual four-day competition – staged at the Lakeside Country Club in Frimley Green, Guildford – every year since it began in 1978 but following this January’s tournament has decided not to tender for a new deal, RadioTimes.com understands, instead turning its attention to a newly created event run by the BDO’s rival organisation the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC).
Held on 24th and 25th September in Cardiff and airing on BBC2, the PDC’s Champions League of Darts will feature the top eight players from the PDC’s Order of Merit, which includes 16-times world champion Phil “The Power” Taylor and is currently led by world number one Michael van Gerwen. It will see the stars split into two groups of four before progressing to knockout stages, with a first prize of £100,000 up for grabs.
The once illustrious Lakeside tournament has played host down the years to champions including five-time winner Eric Bristow, Jocky Wilson, Taylor himself and Dutchman Raymond van Barneveld. But following a bitter schism in British darts in the early 1990s, which eventually led to the formation of the PDC, the BDO has seen big name players including both Taylor and van Barneveld defect to the new organisation to play in its weekly Premier League of Darts, which has aired on Sky Sports since 2005.
In recent years, the BBC’s Lakeside coverage has been hosted by Colin Murray with analysis from former champion Bobby George.