AJ Bell National Badminton League, which featured the Suffolk Saxons, is to be scrapped
- Credit: Archant
The Suffolk Saxons Badminton team have reacted with disappointment, after the announcement today that the AJ Bell National Badminton League is going to be scrapped.
The Saxons, a professional team based at The Corn Exchange in Ipswich, only launched just over a year ago, and finished fifth in their inaugural season in the competition.
Despite the league over-achieving in its mission to bring a new and younger audience and greater profile, including regular TV
broadcast, to the sport, Badminton England cited ‘the financial demands to continue to develop the NBL and the high standard of
event delivery required’.
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In a statement, the Suffolk club said: “Suffolk Saxons are hugely disappointed with Badminton England’s decision to cease the National Badminton League.
“We would like to take the opportunity to thank our head coach Anthony Clark, all of the Saxons players, sponsors, supporters, volunteers and stakeholders for helping us create a unique elite sports experience at the Corn Exchange, and a very special year of badminton for Suffolk.
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“We are determined to create a Saxons legacy for Suffolk badminton from the fantastic achievements of Suffolk Saxons. Working with the Suffolk Badminton Association and partners we will continue to develop Saxons community badminton and grow the sport.
Warren Smyth, Franchise Director commented “Naturally we are all incredibly disappointed with the news, as this has been a fantastic first season for us and we have seen some amazing top class badminton right here in the county.
“We already have a community development plan in place and will be working hard over the coming weeks and months to ensure we maximise the Saxons’ legacy.”
Since its launch in August 2014, over 1.3 million viewers have watched NBL fixtures on domestic TV – through both Sky
Sports and BT Sport – and online, with fans from over 120 different nations engaging with the league across social and web channels.
The NBL introduced a new TV broadcaster to badminton (BT Sport) who extended their support by broadcasting the 2017 YONEX All England. In addition, a new commercial partner (AJ Bell) for Badminton England was secured after using the NBL as a first foray into the sport.
The NBL has offered over 130 players from 15 different nations – including many of Britain’s best young rising stars – the chance to play regularly in front of sell out crowds and TV audiences in a format that has become much talked about.
Season three alone showcased an impressive 12 Rio 2016 Olympians, such was the level of status in which the NBL was held by the global badminton community.