Matchroom Sport interview: Barry Hearn


  • Share via facebook
  • Tweet this
  • Bookmark and Share
Matchroom Sport — with Barry Hearn as chairman — has become one of the world’s largest suppliers of sports programming over the past three decades

Matchroom Sport — with Barry Hearn as chairman — has become one of the world’s largest suppliers of sports programming over the past three decades

It would make a great trivia question: what is the second highest rated televised sport behind football? The answer would stun many. It’s darts.

The arrow-throwing game that hails from English pubs has evolved into a multi-million-dollar phenomenon and its heading to Dubai, where the inaugural World Darts Masters will be played in May.

The game is now the largest growing sport in the world, according to the man who has made squillions from it, Barry Hearn.

The former London accountant also has reaped fortunes from games such as snooker, live fishing, tenpin bowling, poker, boxing and more recently, ping pong, turning them into money-churning empires that contribute more than 40,000 hours of television from 570 professional competition days each year.

It’s a long way from having fellow Londoners look down their noses when he first bought a series of snooker halls in 1974. Back then, snooker was a game for the unemployed and beer-guzzling men.  Even Hearn could not imagine the money-making potential.

But around the corner was something of a sporting revolution that would turn not only Hearn into a multi-millionaire but numerous others into sporting heroes with bank accounts as large as their fan base.

The top darts players can now earn AED11m ($3m), while snooker tournaments offer the equivalent of nearly AED1.5m ($400,000) in prize money.

“People have never heard of money like that within that sport because people think it’s a pub game, it’s just a friendly chuck of the arrows,” the founder of Matchroom Sport says.

Hearn is the first to admit he’s proud of what he’s created, and he has no reservations in saying ‘I told you so’.

“Darts absolutely slaughters golf, cricket, rugby, horse racing [and] boxing in every number you want to think of,” he says.

“It tears it to pieces, it’s the hottest ticket in town. If you don’t buy a ticket to the [darts] world championships in the first week... you ain’t getting in. The dearest is now $400 a ticket to watch a game of darts.  It astonishes me but I’m taking all the credit.”

Article continued on next page

Related:
Join the Discussion

Disclaimer:The view expressed here by our readers are not necessarily shared by Arabian Business, its employees, sponsors or its advertisers.

Please post responsibly. Commenter Rules

  • No comments yet, be the first!

Enter the words above: Enter the numbers you hear:

All comments are subject to approval before appearing

Further reading

Features & Analysis
Brand slam

Brand slam

Gulf blue chips are now closely associated with most of the world...

Why Gulf money can't buy World Cup 2014 spot

Why Gulf money can't buy World Cup 2014 spot

Region's teams will miss out on Brazil 2014 due to managerial...

2
Ready for kick-off

Ready for kick-off

Andy Gray and Richard Keys are two of the best known faces in...

Most Discussed
  • 54
    Three UAE women attacked with hammer at London hotel

    I really feel that Arabian Business.Com should now close this comments page. This should be all about sympathy for the families not what it is/has turned... more

    Wednesday, 16 April 2014 1:06 PM - Adrienne
  • 51
    Why Dubai isn't a plastic city

    What is definitely not a plastic city. The Arabs have a culture dating back to several centuries. 50 years back Dubai was just a fishing village. Today... more

    Tuesday, 8 April 2014 3:49 PM - P. MADHUSUDAN
  • 48
    DMCC boss Ahmed Bin Sulayem entertains Robert Mugabe in Dubai

    @fga ''However today, simply because he decided to dispossess a few white farmers of their land and redistribute to the poorer indigenous blacks'' more

    Sunday, 13 April 2014 3:02 PM - Matt Williams