THE coronavirus outbreak has affected us all in some way, but for sole traders the impact has been even greater, with many not knowing where their next stream of income will come from.

Darts is a sport which shares these values, with most players only getting paid through tournaments.

Bradford darts ace Joe Cullen outlines the struggles he and his fellow competitors are now facing.

“There is no income,” he said. “The worst thing about it is no one knows when the end of it is. If someone said the end is June, then there is something to work too.

“No matter what profession you are in, everyone is in the same boat and we don’t know when it is going to end.

“It is a close community in the darts, everyone knows each other, and the majority get on.

“I know a few people who are struggling and panicking, some of them have young families.

“The worst thing about it is all the uncertainty. We have never had to deal with something like this. At the minute, everything is new.

“The people who are missing out are the self-employed, people like myself and the rest of the darts boys.

“I spoke to my management who are the best in the business, with the likes of Michael Van Gerwen in their ranks, and they are worried. If they were offered September now, they would snap your hands off.”

Fortunately for Cullen, he is ranked highly enough that he is an attractive proposition for sponsors aiming to gain TV exposure.

His ranking of 16th in the world ensures that he receives a sum of money at the beginning of the year from his various backers, but all this insecurity is still causing the Wyke arrowsmith some worry.

The 30-year-old was on his way to purchasing a new property, before he was forced into making a U-turn because of the financial implications coronavirus has created.

He said: “With sponsors, you get a lump sum at the start of the year. Luckily for me, I am quite high in the rankings so I am comfortable enough to get through it.

“It is when the income is going to get started again and what state we are going to come out of it all.

“We are seven months into buying a new house. We had to pull out of it because of the uncertainty, so it has affected us directly.

“The house we were getting needed everything done to it inside, which was initially part of the appeal, but you can’t be splashing out thousands of pounds when you don’t know when your next pay check is going to come.”

So what does the darting world do next? After already postponing all its events in March and April, the Professional Darts Corporation could be in some trouble down the line, with broadcasters and sponsors having certain demands that must be met.

Cullen thinks that PDC chief Barry Hearn will once again have to perform miracles to keep the sport afloat and maintain the incredible standards that he has created.

As for the Bradfordian, sparse pieces of practice will be implemented until a date for a return to the schedule is announced.

All darts players have been left in limbo, much like everybody else in this period of lockdown.

He said: “It was an option a week ago (putting darts behind closed doors) but I don’t think it is now with the new measures that have been put in.

“It is two metres apart (the government guidelines state). With that distance it is near on impossible.

“When Barry (Hearn) was exploring those options with the snooker, it was before these more stringent measures came in.

“I wouldn’t like to be Barry at the end of this, sponsors will be going to him saying there is no TV and they are within their rights.

“Barry has got us to where we are now and I am sure he can pull us out the other side.

“It is alright practicing stupid hours but you don’t know when we will be coming back.

“I will have this week off and then I will keep ticking over. After the three weeks of lockdown we have been advised, I will assess it again.”

All sports will now have this dilemma of how financially they can survive during these isolating times, evaluating whether, upon their return, a sustainable future can be achieved.

The next event Cullen will hope he can enter is the Austrian Darts Open, held in Premstätten, which is set to commence on May 1.

He did not qualify for the tournament in 2019 but will automatically be able to travel over this year due to his top 16 ranking.

Past winners of the Open in its seven-year history include three-time world champion Van Gerwen and darts legend Phil Taylor.