IAN White believes it would be a great investment to see darts return to Stoke-on-Trent, but the lack of suitable venues in the City makes it a distant reality.
The 48-year-old has returned to form in the last 18 months, forcing his way back into the world’s top 12 with some excellent performances in the PDC’s floor events.
White told StaffsLive: “I would love to see darts return to Stoke, but I don’t think the city has a venue that could host a major tournament right now.
“What Barry Hearn has done with this sport is unbelievable. You get 6000-7000 people now watching a game of darts, you would have never thought that in the 80’s. It would be nice if
maybe Phil (Taylor) could build a big venue or something, call It the Phil Taylor stadium. It would be nice to come back but we had a couple of exhibitions not so long ago in Stoke so I think that’s the biggest you’re going to get now.”
Small exhibitions are often held at the Gala Bingo in Fenton, but it has been over 25 years since the last competitive tournament was held in Stoke-on-Trent. Despite poor performances at the World Series finals and European Championships, White will still be in contention for a place in the 2019 Premier League. A deep run at this weekend’s Players Championship finals and a quarter or semi-final appearance at Alexandra Palace could force his way into the reckoning.
‘The Diamond’ said: ‘’The Premier League is always in the back of your mind. About three years ago I got to the quarter-finals of every TV tournament so I thought I had a chance. They pick whoever they want for the Premier League because at the end of the day it is a show and that’s what they want. So fingers crossed I can do well and get in the mix. If I don’t I just keep going.’’
White narrowly missed out on last year’s Premier League line-up with Gerwyn Price and Raymond van Barneveld taking the final two spots for the 2018 season. The aforementioned Price struggled throughout the season, not picking up a win and being relegated at the half way stage.
A strong end to the year could also see White push his way into the England line-up for May’s World Cup of Darts. ‘The Diamond’ currently sits behind Dave Chisnall, James Wade and Michael Smith in the order of merit, but one big win is enough carry him above the England trio into the England pairing with world number three Rob Cross.
White added: ‘’Getting a place on the England team would be a huge achievement. If you look at the Order of Merit it’s possible that me and Michael Smith could get it. Obviously, James Wade did well at the weekend to win the European Championships so he’s up to number six. If I can get something massive like James did at the weekend then that would push me up there and It would great personally for me and Michael Smith to compete together for once.’’
White now looks ahead to this weekend’s Players Championship finals after winning ProTour tournaments in Milton Keynes and Barnsley earlier in the year. His two victories on the circuit mean White will arrive in Minehead at number four seed and a serious threat as he looks to seal his first television title at the tender age of 48. You can keep up to date with White’s progress on ITV4 from 1pm on Friday, with the final taking place at 7pm at Butlins Minehead on the Sunday evening.