| 12.1°C Belfast

Phil 'The Power' Taylor: Belfast would be perfect World Championship host


Big names: Phil 'The Power' Taylor takes on Raymond van Barneveld at the SSE Arena tonight

Big names: Phil 'The Power' Taylor takes on Raymond van Barneveld at the SSE Arena tonight

Getty Images

Big names: Phil 'The Power' Taylor takes on Raymond van Barneveld at the SSE Arena tonight

Let's bring the World Championship to Belfast - that was the message from Phil 'The Power' Taylor ahead of tonight's Betway Premier League clashes (7pm) at the SSE Arena.

Taylor has won the World title a record 16 times and feels Belfast would be the ideal host city for the tournament which is currently staged at Alexandra Palace in London during the Festive season and has a prize fund of £1.65million.

"The Belfast fans love their darts - you can see that when they pack out the arena every year for the Premier League, creating a brilliant atmosphere," Taylor told the Belfast Telegraph last night.

"Belfast is easy to get to from all over Europe, it's a beautiful city with great bars, restaurants and shops - it would provide a great showcase for the sport of darts."

And despite being 55 years of age, Taylor - who takes on his old foe Raymond van Barneveld in the £750,000 event tonight - is still hungry for World Championship and Premier League success.

"I'm greedy - I really feel I have two more World titles in me," said Taylor, who last landed the World crown in 2013 and has six Premier League titles.

Taylor, a multi millionaire thanks to his prowess at the oche, is confident his tally of 16 World titles will never be challenged.

"There are some great players now - Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson to name a couple - but the overall standard is so high that it would be almost impossible for one player to rack up a load of World titles," said Taylor, who had five-time World champion Eric Bristow as a mentor in his early years.

"People like Eric Bristow and John Lowe set the standard, then the likes of myself and Dennis Priestley came along and now you have Van Gerwen, Anderson and quite a few others battling it out to be the top man."

Ireland has yet to produce a global darts champion, but Taylor feels it's only a matter of time.

"Brendan Dolan has been knocking on the door for a while, Daryl Gurney is on the up and there are other Irish lads who have the potential to make it to the top," said Taylor.

The Stoke ace also has plans to become an ambassador for the sport when he eventually retires, but before that has plans to spread the darting word.

"We are working hard to build up a World Tour, taking tournaments to places like China, Japan, New Zealand, the USA - all over," he said.

The Power is currently undefeated in the Premier League since his 7-2 reverse to five-time World champion 'Barney' two months ago, and is three points clear of 2014 World champion Van Gerwen at the top.

"I know Barney's going to play well because he's a wounded tiger," said Taylor.

"He's a cracking player and he wears his heart on his sleeve and tries his hardest - he puts everything into it."

Looking back on his opening night defeat, Taylor added: "I think Ray's done me a favour, it gave me the kick I needed.

"At the time I was playing really well, I thought I was going to thrash him but I didn't and he beat me.

"I wasn't playing well enough and I had to get back on the practice board - if it wasn't for him I could have been miles in front in the table.

"The Premier League is a hard one to win.

"It's a real marathon over a few months."

In another mouthwatering showdown tonight, defending World and Premier League champion Anderson takes on World number one Van Gerwen.

Anderson, who also won the World title last year, said: "It's a big game for me but I'm looking forward to getting back to Belfast.

"It's a lovely arena and a great crowd, and they love their darts over there."

Betway, an online sports betting operator, offers more than 30,000 markets, available live and in-play, across a huge range of sports. For tickets and information visit www.ssearenabelfast.com (tel 9073 9074).

Belfast Telegraph