History of the Professional Darts Corporation, or PDC
The birth of the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) came about as a result of a revolution within the sport. Back in the 1980s darts had slipped from the lofty position it held in the previous decades, and it appeared that it may lose its place on the British sporting landscape completely. As interest waned television deals dried up, until by the end of the eighties only the Embassy World Championships was broadcast on national TV and sponsors were drying up.
The top players felt that the governing body – the British Darts Organisation or BDO – was not doing enough to promote the sport. Impatient for change, sixteen of the leading players took the drastic step of setting up their own governing body which they called the World Darts Council (WDC) in 1992. This group of 16 included every single active BDO world champion, and so it caused shockwaves in the sport. As the UK is and was the home of darts, what happened in Britain had repercussions for the sport all over the world.
The BDO was not going to lose such a significant pool of top ranking talent without putting up a fight, and they promptly banned the ‘rebel’ players from taking part in county competitions and even threatened to ban any BDO players who were involved in exhibition matches with any of the WDC players. The World Championships of 1993 was the last time when players from the two sides of the divide competed against each other, with the WDC players wearing insignia on their sleeves to denote their new allegiance. From 1994 onwards there would be two separate dart world championships.
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After much legal wrangling between the two organisations, a compromise of sorts was reached and both groups proceeded to run tournaments in parallel to each other, with players able to decide which organization they wished to belong with. The WDC renamed itself the Professional Darts Corporation in 1997, and goes under the PDC name to this day. While the PDC faced a number of challenges in order to gain a foothold on the world game, it was helped mightily by the emergence of Sky Sports, which was to become Britain’s premier sport channel. Up to the present day Sky Sports broadcast the PDC world championships and Premier League, while BBC cover the BDO championships. Sky are able to dedicate whole channels to providing hours of darts coverage whereas the BBC are somewhat restricted in what they can broadcast as there is no dedicated sports channel, although the internet has increased their options in recent years.
Currently the PDC dominates its elder rival, at least in terms of the money flowing into the coffers of the respective organisations. Sky Sports has pumped millions into the game, and the PDC has also benefited from lucrative sponsorship deals. This means that the most successful players from the BDO inevitably choose to move across to the PDC, and this drain of talent shows no sign of abetting. Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor has long been the face of world darts and he was part of the initial breakaway group the formed the WDC, and so has been a mainstay and serial winner of the PDC world championship. While the BDO has struggled to compete at the elite level of the game, their involvement with grassroots darts means that there has always been a place for both organisations in the game.
The PDC has continued to grow its televisual output in recent years, with Sky showing the World Championship, The Premier League, World Cup of Darts, World Grand Prix and World Matchplay darts. The PDC World Championship is generally regarded as the ultimate test of the best darts players in the world, with the BDO version of the worlds a distant second place in terms of quality. While Phil Taylor has dominated the world darts scene with an impressive 14 titles, new challengers such as Michael van Gerwen and Adrian Lewis look set to challenge in years to come. The future looks bright for the PDC as they continue to go from strength to strength.