John Henderson reckons a PDC World Championships behind closed doors may suit some players.
After Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement last week that fans may be locked out of sporting events for six months in an effort to tackle Covid-19 the 2021 PDC World Championship is set to be played at an empty Alexandra Palace at the end of the year.
It’s a blow to darts not only because of the revenue generated by capacity crowds, but also the atmosphere and spectacle fans create.
Henderson has played in the tournament eight times and the Highlander said: “Maybe it will take off some of the pressure. You still know that there will be millions of people watching on TV.
“But if you can get that out of your head then it should take the pressure off.
“Years ago at European Tour events there used to be two boards rather than just the one on the main stage.
“Board one was in front of the crowd, but board two was in a little room and you still had the cameras and the caller but no crowd, so it might be like that.
“If you’re making debut it will be a shame for those players because you want to make your debut with the crowd there.
“But you never know we might see a few more shocks than usual if there’s no crowd and it takes some of the pressure off players.
“The lesser players might benefit, but at the end of the day everyone would much rather play with fans there.”
The PDC have already staged big tournaments such as the World Matchplay and Premier League behind closed doors, with the World Grand Prix, which starts this weekend, the latest to follow that trend.
Two thousand fans were present for the World Series Finals in Salzburg 10 days ago and Henderson says the sooner crowds can return in the UK the better it is for darts.
The Huntly thrower added: “Some of the lads have played in the Premier League and the World Matchplay where you would normally have fans, and from what they’ve been saying it is weird.
“You hit an important 180 and you’re expecting the big roar from the crowd and it isn’t there.
“I know there’s been crowd noise on the TV coverage and seemingly the players could hear the audio at the matchplay, so I don’t know if that made a difference.
“We’re used to playing without crowds in Pro Tour events, but when you’re on the big stage and you’re used to thousands of people there it will be different.
“Someone like Gerwyn Price thrives on the crowds being there and he showed that in the World Series Finals where there was a crowd there he went and won it.
“When the crowds are there it seems to give him an extra edge. Some players might prefer playing without crowds, but a lot of people like having the crowds there.
“And in a wider sense for the sport as a whole we need them back because it’s part and parcel of the whole product and also brings a lot of money into the game.”