Thursday, June 20, 2024

Michael Smith: Players should be grateful Luke Littler is filling our pockets

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Michael Smith has told fellow darts players to stop moaning about Luke Littler and think about the extra money the 17-year-old is making them.

Littler has been handed a seat at the top table of darts after his stunning breakthrough at the World Championship over Christmas saw him transcend the sport.

He has been given opportunities a player of his ranking would not normally get, such as a place in the Premier League, where he subsequently topped the table in the league phase, and invitations to World Series events.

That has irked some of the lower-ranked players, but Smith has told them to shut up and be grateful Littler is on the scene.

“He’s amazing pushing the PDC boys even further,” said the 2023 world champion, who booked his place at the Premier League play-offs with victory in Sheffield on Thursday night.

“There’s a few getting upset with it but listen my pockets get full every time he gets mentioned.

“I think they are getting annoyed. I had it last year, Littler is getting it all now.

“I don’t think they are happy that he’s getting everything. I’m not bothered.

“The players at 70 in the world shouldn’t be bothered because this young kid at the minute is one of the best players in the world.

“The people at 70, 80, 90 all they should think about is that their money is going to keep going up and up and up.

“The more this kid is playing, we get better sponsors, hopefully Eddie (Hearn) puts the prize money up again, £1,000 to £1,500 on the ProTour.

“My money is just going to keep going up because some kid is doing it for me. I’m not annoyed and the other players shouldn’t either. The kid is doing nothing wrong.

“People are annoyed that he got in and I can say there’s a couple of the boys in the top 16 who are annoyed. But he is going to pocket us so much money.”

Littler’s arrival on the scene has thrust darts into the mainstream, with appearances on the Jonathan Ross Show, Comic Relief and a cover shoot for Forbes magazine.

“Just because of Littler we’ve gone from being wherever we were in the ratings to only now the Premier League football in the UK is out rating us,” Smith added.

“Just because of that kid. You have to look at the bigger picture. The bigger picture is that darts is growing.

“If you stick around and you are good enough to stay in the top 32, he is making it grow. As long as the sport is growing, who cares?”

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