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Luke Littler was DOUBTED by PDC chiefs, reveals Eddie Hearn – as he had to convince them to let 17-year-old star join Premier League Darts line-up during his World Championship run

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Eddie Hearn has revealed he took to the PDC WhatsApp group after watching Luke Littler in the quarter-finals of the World Darts Championships to say the youngster needed to be added to the Premier League line-up. 

The Warrington-based darts player shot to stardom earlier this year, with his impressive performances at the World Championship at the Alexandra Palace putting him on the map. 

Littler made the final but fell short to Luke Humphries, losing 7-4. Nevertheless, he still banked £200,000 and went on to claim his first professional men’s title earlier this week.

 Hearn said he was blown away by Littler’s performances and urged the PDC board to add the 17-year-old to the line-up for the Premier League. However, they had some reservations. 

Hearn said the board were concerned about how Littler would deal with the pressure and media attention associated with the Premier League – claiming they had to give the youngster time to ‘develop’ as a player and person. 

Eddie Hearn took to the PDC WhatsApp group after watching Luke Littler at the World Darts Championships to say the youngster needed to be added to the Premier League line-up

Eddie Hearn took to the PDC WhatsApp group after watching Luke Littler at the World Darts Championships to say the youngster needed to be added to the Premier League line-up

Hearn said Littler's performance against Rob Cross in the semi-finals of the World Darts Championship proved why he was ready for the big stage

Hearn said Littler’s performance against Rob Cross in the semi-finals of the World Darts Championship proved why he was ready for the big stage

Hearn understood their concerns but said Littler’s performance against Rob Cross in the semi-finals of the  World Darts Championship proved why he was ready for the big stage.   

Littler averaged 106.05, hitting 16 maximums and ton-plus finishes of 149, 142 and 132 during their clash – securing a 6-2 victory against the 2018 winner at the age of 16. 

Speaking to Sky Sports about Littler, Hearn said: ‘The PDC board have a WhatsApp group chat and as we know, around the World Championships it’s the finalisation of the Premier League line-up. 

‘Basically, as soon as this kid [Luke Littler] made the last-16 or the quarter finals of the competition, I was thinking he must go in the Premier League line-up. But, I am a casual darts fan. 

‘You’ve got people who sit within the PDC who are extreme hardcore darts fans and have been for years. They’ve been a huge part of the PDC development and they weren’t sure.

‘A lot of feelings within the group was that Luke Littler is 16. Does he have the tenacity? Does he have the mindset? Can he deal with the pressure? Can he deal with the media? We’ve got to be fair to him. We’ve got to give him the chance to develop as a player. 

‘I was like, I get it but he’s going to sell out everywhere. Everyone is going to tune in to watch him. But, it was probably the Ross Cross victory in the semi-finals that sealed it. 

Hearn says Littler is one of the biggest sporting celebrities in the UK at the moment

Hearn says Littler is one of the biggest sporting celebrities in the UK at the moment 

Littler has attended boxing events and Manchester United games since his rise to stardom

Littler has attended boxing events and Manchester United games since his rise to stardom 

‘You saw his mannerisms, his demeanour and the way he responded to the pressure that made you realise this kid is ready. He’s special and I don’t think you could do what he did under that kind of pressure and that kind of media exposure without being special because he played fearlessly. 

‘That’s the greatest sign of someone who can handle the pressure. That is someone who can go up there, in that kind of enviornment, and play carefree. It ended up being the greatest decision ever because of what he has done in the Premier League. Look at what he did in Bahrain and especially look what he did yesterday.’

Hearn went on to add: ‘There are players in the past and I am going back years to the likes of Kirk Shepherd. He raced onto the scene in the Worlds and you thought wow here’s this kid that is a massive new addition to the PDC. He went on from there but never to the heights Littler did. 

‘There is that worry that it’s too much too soon but I don’t think it is. You compare it other sports like tennis. Take Emma Radacanu. She was the same kind of age and went out and won the US Open but was she ready for that? What it a one off? Was it a good draw? How are you going to respond to that? 

‘But, what Luke has done is incredible. He is at the opening of an envelope. He’s gone to the boxing, he’s at Manchester United. He’s just embracing it. That’s part of the battle, being able to deal with the change that is coming to your life. Not just financially, but the pressure of being a celebrity. 

‘If you look at the positioning of major stars in the sport in the UK at the moment, he is right there. And I mean it, he’s right up there. He’s making a lot of money and off the oche. 

Littler made history after winning the Bahrain Masters by defeating three-time world champion Michael van Gerwen to claim his first PDC title at his first effort

Littler made history after winning the Bahrain Masters by defeating three-time world champion Michael van Gerwen to claim his first PDC title at his first effort 

Littler is now only the second-ever player to hit a nine-dart finish on the World Series after the legendary Phil Taylor (pictured)

Littler is now only the second-ever player to hit a nine-dart finish on the World Series after the legendary Phil Taylor (pictured)

‘It’s the first time a darts player has signed major sponsorship deals with major brands. Outside of PDC partners and manufactures and darts companies. This guy is not now signing major deals with the likes of Bohooman and others.’

Hearn finished by saying: ‘There’s only more to come. At the moment, the Luke Littler effect is great for everyone.’ 

Littler made history after winning the Bahrain Masters by defeating three-time world champion Michael van Gerwen to claim his first PDC title at his first effort.

After defeating both Nathan Aspinall and Gerwyn Price to reach the final, he then defeated Van Gerwen 8-5 in the final just two days before his 17th birthday. 

Littler also became the second-ever player to hit a nine-dart finish on the World Series after the legendary Phil Taylor.