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World of Sport

30th Dec 2023

‘I didn’t fully understand what I was being asked to do’ – Luke Littler apologises for newspaper picture

Patrick McCarry

Luke Littler

“It is very new to me… “

16-year-old darts sensation Luke Littler is tearing it up at the PDC world championships, but having to deal with his first significant piece of social media blow-back.

The teenager has reached the Last 16 of the championships after an impressive run at the oche. He next faces former world champ Raymond van Barneveld for a place in the last eight. With last year’s winner Michael Smith and 2021 champ Gerwyn Price eliminated, many of the final competitors will be convincing themselves that this could be their year.

Ahead of that meeting with ‘Barney’, though, Luke Littler has taken to social media in an attempt to quell a firestorm created by him posing with a tabloid newspaper while having a post-game kebab.

Earlier in the championship, as he celebrated reaching the Last 32, Littler went out for a celebratory kebab before joking that he had to refuel before getting some sleep for school, the next morning. The Sun followed that up with a photoshoot of the teenager posing with ‘a trademark kebab’ and a copy of their newspaper.

The Sun is a publication deeply unpopular among a large cross-section of the community the darts prospect hails from. Littler is from Runcorn, which sits alongside the River Mersey and is nestled between Liverpool and Warrington. The Sun backed former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher over striking workers and went in hard on Liverpool fans after the Hillsborough Disaster.

Not long into his tenure as Liverpool boss, Jürgen Klopp earned plaudits for refusing to take questions from a reporter with the publication.

The image of Littler posing with the newspaper sparked an online furore and Littler’s team used his ‘X’ account to address the matter, writing:

‘Today a photograph of me holding up a newspaper has been published in the media. The media attention I have been getting is very new to me and I didn’t fully understand at the time what I was being asked to do.

‘In no way do I endorse that newspaper or the headline which accompanied the article and I sincerely apologise for any offence this has caused. I’m focusing now on my next match with Barney and would like to thank everyone for their amazing support.’

Gary Anderson stands up for Luke Littler

Two-time PDC world champion Gary Anderson then swooped to the defence of Luke Littler with a passionate statement he delivered to the media, on Friday.

After defeating Boris Krcmar in his Last 32 match, ‘The Flying Scotsman’ declared:

“I’m going to say this now – we had another youngster called Josh Rock that all you press and everything else have absolutely destroyed.

“So if it ever goes t*** up with Luke, then give yourselves a pat on the back, because that’s the way it’s going. Let the boy play darts!

“I’ve been downstairs today, he’s had cameras, zoom calls, Sky meetings. Let the boy play darts.

“He’s had a great tournament, he’s done well, but what happens if it goes Pete Tong now? You boys have ruined it, haven’t you?

“So let the boy play darts, he’s 16-years-old, playing well.”

Luke Littler taking on ‘Barney’

Luke Littler will face Raymond van Barneveld in the Last 16 of the PDC World Championship from 8:45pm on Saturday, December 30.

Also on the slate for December 30 is Derry native Daryl Gurney taking on in-form Englishman Dave Chisnall, former champ Rob Cross facing Jonny Clayton and Fermanagh’s Brendan Dolan taking on Gary Anderson.

We’ll be following all the big darts moments in our world championships live hub.

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