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Let Littler be ‘normal’ 17-year-old away from oche – PDC chief

The PDC are working to ensure Luke Littler receives the appropriate support behind the scenes amid his staggering rise to stardom, says chief executive Matt Porter.

Littler’s immediate impact at the oche has emerged as one of the most high-profile stories across sport after the 17-year-old burst onto the scene by reaching the final of the World Darts Championship at the beginning of the year.

He has since hit nine-darters on the way to winning the Bahrain Masters and Belgian Darts Open, while also featuring in his first season in the Premier League.

In doing so he has become one of the faces of darts, his early success warranting strong attention from multiple mainstream news outlets.

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Littler just misses out on a nine-darter on route to an impressive Premier League win over Michael van Gerwen in Nottingham

“What’s been really positive is Luke’s recent wins are going to help his schedule because it will reduce the number of qualifiers he has to play in which will be good for him,” Porter told the Love the Darts podcast.

“The media demands are high, still getting a lot of requests for high-end content. We saw him on The Jonathan Ross Show, he’s doing Comic Relief, there are a lot of A-list people that want to speak to Luke which is great for him and great for darts and it’s important that is managed properly.

“His manager Martin [Foulds] is excellent, his family are very supportive, we’re involved and it’s a team effort really just to make sure everything is geared around giving him the optimal opportunity to be the best he can on the oche and just get enough rest and time to himself to be a normal 17-year-old as best he can away from that.

“It’s early days, it’s hard to think we’re only three months into the Luke Littler story but who knows how long it might last?”

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Littler sang along to Nathan Aspinall’s ‘Mr Brightside’ walk-on music!

Littler threatened to add to his remarkable ascent on Thursday night when he came inches from chalking up yet another nine-darter during his match against Michael van Gerwen.

Gary Anderson is among those to have been vocal about the importance of allowing Littler the freedom to play without mounting pressure, while the teenager’s rising stock was perhaps also reflected recently by criticism of supposed ‘arrogance’ from German opponent Ricardo Pietreczko during his winning European Tour event.

“We’ve got a full safeguarding policy, we’ve had a heavy involvement in youth darts for a decade now so we’re well versed in dealing with minors,” Porter added.

“Not always at this level to be fair, but nevertheless there’s a grounding in place and a lot of very experienced qualified people in place, support networks, the PDPA [Professional Darts Players Association] are there, everybody is fully aware of the situation.

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Van Gerwen proves a point to Littler by finishing off the youngster’s nine-darter by hitting a 144

“Luke’s diary is kind of being managed on a short-term basis because it will change so frequently. We aren’t looking ahead to August, September, October, November yet.

“It’s very much on what’s going to work this month to give him as much chance to play darts as he does to rest from darts.”

Premier League Darts continues on Thursday, March 21, in Dublin. Watch live on Sky Sports Action and Main Event from 7pm. Stream darts and more without a contract through NOW.

2024 Premier League Darts schedule

Night 1 Cardiff Feb 1 Winner: Michael Smith
Night 2 Berlin Feb 8 Winner: Michael van Gerwen
Night 3 Glasgow Feb 15 Winner: Michael van Gerwen
Night 4 Newcastle Feb 22 Winner: Michael van Gerwen
Night 5 Exeter Feb 29 Winner: Nathan Aspinall
Night 6 Brighton March 7 Winner: Luke Humphries
Night 7 Nottingham March 14 Winner: Luke Humphries
Night 8 Dublin March 21
Night 9 Belfast March 28
Night 10 Manchester April 4
Night 11 Birmingham April 11
Night 12 Rotterdam April 18
Night 13 Liverpool April 25
Night 14 Aberdeen May 2
Night 15 Leeds May 9
Night 16 Sheffield May 16
Finals Night The O2, London May 23

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