By the time you read this we here in the UK will all know what is, or isn’t or possibly might be happening as regards the exit of Britain from the European Union.

Now, I’m not a man to rant and rave about politics. I leave that to our incompetent, self-centred, elected Members of Parliament BUT I must have a little rant about the impact Brexit is going to have on the sport of darts whether we leave with a deal or not.

A dartboard after Brexit!

Many of you may recall that, back in 2016, the EU bureaucrats tried to introduce a Europe-wide ruling that all target games, including darts, should be standardised by ensuring that the bullseye be the highest scoring point of the target (EU Regulation 1420/16). This would have meant that, on a dartboard, all trebles that scored over 50 would have to be removed. In preparation for the approval of this crazy rule, the WINMAU Dartboard Company’s research and development section came up with what would have become the EU revised design (see photo, left). (Image © 2016 WINMAU Dartboard Co. Ltd. Used with permission.)

Fortunately, after representations from all sides involved in darts (fans (via numerous petitions on social media), manufacturers and major darts organisations and organisers), Regulation 1420/16 was never introduced. At that time the UK Government was going to introduce a Health and Safety Order (No. 9102/01/AF), that all darts venues should have a large, clear Perspex ‘wall’ between the players and officials and spectators. It was believed that this Order had been shelved permanently but, sadly, this was not the case and thus will now become law when we leave Europe.

Archie Crumlin

The current EU Regulation 47/5f/16 sub-paragraph 4(b), sub-section (a) (5) (Darts and Variants Thereof) was agreed in the late 1980s following months of negotiations between the Government’s representative of all of the UK’s darts leagues and manufacturers, Archie Crumlin (pictured), and the European Commissioner for Sports and Games, Sweden’s Olaf Prilo.

This important rule, under the heading Healthy Darts Environments, related to health and safety in our sport: the owners or licensees of all UK public houses, clubs and sporting venues where darts is played having to take NO SPECIFIC ACTION to protect other players, officials and spectators from the potentially dangerous effect of rebounding darts, save to ensure that people are warned before any match, played anywhere, of the possible danger of bouncing projectiles.

Disturbingly, whatever the outcome of Brexit, this Rule will be IMMEDIATELY REVOKED on 29th March and, three days later, Britain falls back to the Health and Safety regulations that were going to be introduced by HM Government before the current EU regulation was introduced.

Put simply, as soon as we leave the EU, all licensees of pubs and clubs and owners of any venue, large or small, used for darts must erect a large, clear, Perspex ‘wall’ between players and spectators so as to comply with H&S Order 9102/01/AF.

My personal view is that this is bureaucracy gone mad.

In my 35 years of researching the history of darts I have only ever discovered two instances during the past 100 years where someone has been hurt by a rebounding dart.  One was in a works canteen in Wolverhampton in the 1930s; the other at the Red Lion and Sherbet pub in Newport, Essex in the mid-1960s.In both instances neither ‘victim’ suffered any life-threatening injuries although the Wolverhampton case did end up in court and the company was fined.

OK. I must admit that I was hurt once by a rebounding darts but it was my own fault. I threw my third dart in anger at busting a score with my second. The dart hit a wire, bounced off the board and headed back towards me at speed…and I tried to catch it! (We’ve all been there haven’t we?)

What HM Government has done is absolute madness. Who wants to watch a darts match through a Perspex screen or even play behind one? How will that affect TV screenings of live darts? Surely such legislation will kill the sport we all love. Pressure must be put on the Government IMMEDIATELY to repeal this prime example of Health and Safety insanity.

© Patrick Chaplin (1st April 2019)

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