Players dart to the High Court for a fair share

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The Independent Online
Some of the biggest beer bellies and sweatiest T-shirts in sport lined up to demand official recognition yesterday. The world's top darts players are suing the British Darts Organisation (BDO), alleging it has a monopoly on organising events and competitions.

For those who await the unofficial world championships at the Circus Tavern, East London, which has seduced many of the best players from the BDO's Embassy-sponsored world titleship, the battle between the game's biggest names and the British Darts Council is a fight for the heart of the sport. In 1993, as support for darts dwindled, top players broke away and set up their own sporting body, the World Darts Council.

Since then, Eric Bristow, John Lowe, "Jocky" Wilson (pictured) and Cliff Lazarenko have been suspended by the BDO from participating or attending any of its events. At the High Court, London, yesterday, Andrew Hochhauser QC, representing the players, told Mr Justice Potts professional darts players' livelihoods depended on being able to take part in competitions for prize money. "These competitions are said to be open to all, but they alone have been denied access since 1993. We claim the responsibility for the exclusion should be placed at the door of the BDO." The darts players want the judge to rule that the BDO measures were unlawful and the boycott should be ended. They are also claiming compensation for losses of earnings since the introduction of the boycott.

The case continues today.