For the first time in its 26 year history, the World Matchplay will not take place at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool.

Instead, it will take place behind closed doors at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes. The Marshall Arena has been the venue for the PDC Masters since 2015 and it has recently staged the Championship League and the Tour Championship snooker events earlier this month. It will also host the Summer Series which features five Players Championship events back to back from 8th -12th July.

This is because of health and safety reasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which currently has nearly 10.7 million people infected and has claimed over 516,000 lives.

PDC Chief Executive Matt Porter confirmed the news in a statement.

“This is an unprecedented step for us to take and this tough decision has been made only after exhausting all possible options in a bid to stage the Betfred World Matchplay with a limited crowd in Blackpool,” he said.

“We thank the DCMS for their co-operation throughout the process and also the Winter Gardens and Blackpool Council, who remained committed to hosting the event throughout the process.

“Whilst this will be disappointing for the thousands of fans who had planned to watch the 2020 Betfred World Matchplay live in Blackpool, we will be offering those fans the chance to defer their tickets to 2021, when the tournament will return to its spiritual home.”

Thankfully for the fans who booked their tickets for this year’s event will have their tickets transferred to next year, which is planned to be held from 18th-25th July 2021.

It’s a shame that one of the biggest events in the world of darts won’t be taking place at its natural home, but health and safety must come first! To the players, fans, staff and referees. But at least that it’s finally great to have some live darts back on TV after a four-month hiatus!

The 2020 Betfred World Matchplay takes place from 18th-26th July and it will be televised as usual by Sky Sports.