Premier League expands to 10

  • Last Updated: January 2 2013, 20:04 GMT

Michael van Gerwen, Wes Newton and Robert Thornton will make their debuts as the McCoy's Premier League Darts expands from eight to 10 players this year.

The Premier League will have 10 players this year

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The PDC have opted to change the format of the competition with two extra places added to the 15-night darting tour of the UK and Ireland, which starts in February.

World champion Phil Taylor was already guaranteed a place along with the other top three in the world rankings - Adrian Lewis, James Wade and Michael van Gerwen, who lost to Taylor 7-4 in Tuesday's final at the Alexandra Palace.

Four other picks were expected to take the field up to the usual eight competitors, but that has now been increased with established Premier League stars Simon Whitlock and Raymond van Barneveld joined again by Andy Hamilton after he made an impact in his debut season last year.

The 2011 champion Gary Anderson returns and he is joined by two new faces in the event with Newton and Thornton set to make their debuts.

"This new format for the McCoy's Premier League Darts is going to take the tournament to a whole new level," said PDC chairman Barry Hearn.

"Fans across the UK and Ireland will experience five spectacular matches on each night, and all ten players have earned their spots with their achievements over the last 12 months.

"This new format will mean incredible competition both to avoid relegation and then for play-off places before the ninth McCoy's Premier League champion is crowned at The O2 in May."

The 10 players will face each other once over the opening nine weeks of the tournament, over the best of 12 legs, before the bottom two players in the league table are relegated following the ninth league night in Brighton.

The remaining eight players will then face each other again over the remaining five league nights before the top four progress to the play-offs at The O2 in London on May 16.

The McCoy's Premier League Darts, screened live on Sky Sports HD, will begin on Thursday February 7 at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast before travelling to Aberdeen, Bournemouth, Exeter, Nottingham, Manchester, Cardiff, Glasgow and Brighton for the first phase of the event.

The final five league nights will be held in Sheffield, Dublin, Birmingham, Liverpool and Newcastle before the top four players progress to the Play-Offs at The O2 in London on May 16.

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