Badminton England’s popular competitions and tournament structure will undergo a revolutionary overhaul following a year long consultation involving thousands of players, coaches, tournament organisers, clubs and county badminton associations.
The consultation has seen a series of nine recommendations being made to Badminton England, with the key headlines being:
- The introduction of the first ever National Team League
- A new ranking and grading system
- A restructuring of the circuit tournaments that will introduce two new levels:
- A new level 4 sitting below the existing Bronze tournaments
- A new level 5 aimed at the hundreds of thousands of people who play more recreational level badminton
Plans are already underway to scope the detail and timelines of introduction with all recommendations expected to be in place by 2021.
The existing tournament circuit encompasses over 250 competitions and currently attracts over 5,000 players each season.
But the ambitious plans are aimed at doubling the number of players on the ranking and grading system by 2025 whilst improving access to competitive court time for players of all levels. The exciting plans are spearheaded by a brand new National Team League for English badminton that will see the introduction of a new tiered league format.
A National Team League with a pyramid promotion and relegation structure that will support and grow local grass roots leagues through to a top national ‘premier’ division has long been an aspiration for Badminton England.
Now, following overwhelming backing from clubs and players, Badminton England will begin a year long detailed feasibility study to explore options of bringing a national league into reality.
The eight-year old traditional ranking and grading system is also to be reviewed with a new dynamic concept – providing a richer analysis of player profiles and performance – set to be tabled for further testing and scoping.
The facelift of competitive badminton will also see the introduction of two new levels of circuit tournaments.
A new level 4 tournament tier will be added to the existing sanctioned senior circuit calendar from this July. Sitting below bronze (tier three), it is expected that the new circuit will provide greater entry level competitive opportunities for club players, with a particular focus on players graded F and below and those new to the grading system.
Badminton England is also delighted to introduce a fifth tier - a new social competition circuit which is set for launch later this coming season. The new social competition will be opened up to the ½ million adults, reaching a new competition audience, who play badminton regularly but away from the traditional club and competition structure.
Mark Downie, Head of Competitions said “A National Team League would be transformational for competitive club badminton on a local, county and national scale.
“A tiered structure would be the central spine of the domestic competition pathway, raising the profile of our brilliant network of clubs and leagues and supporting better development of players.”
“We are of course at the very beginning but to receive the backing we have for the concept shows that clubs and leagues can visualise the bigger picture and long term benefits that comes with attracting more and new players into team competition.
“We are also very excited at the prospect of overhauling the ranking and grading system making it more accessible to all players and similarly, the additional two levels of circuit tournaments open up our competitions to a whole new group of players.
“The evolution of the competition pathway will significantly improve the current offer for existing players whilst opening up new opportunities that inspire new players to take a welcome first step into competitive badminton.
“The recommendations formed from the comments and opinion of the wider badminton community point towards a balanced tournament structure that supports the development of young players and one that meets the needs of all players.”
Adrian Christy, Chief Executive of Badminton England, said: “I would firstly like to say a huge thank you to everyone who contributed to the consultation process. That input will fundamentally shape the future of competitive badminton in this country.
“We hear a lot about the struggles local leagues have to attract new players, we see talented players stepping out of badminton because the current competitive offer is not appealing enough to them and we are seeing a significant number of people playing badminton at grass roots level who want to start playing competitive, however our structure does not currently accommodate them.
“We have listened to thousands of people who tell us it’s time for change and I delighted that the work has begun to bring these exciting plans to life.”
Whilst the imminent enhancements demand attention, the longer term evolution of the pathway, phased through to 2021, will also include:
- A switch to a January-December tournament calendar which is closer aligned to junior age group bandings (reverted from a July-June schedule)
- A revised top tier senior circuit to attract a higher quality of entry
- A deeper focus on female competitive players with development of a competition offer that appeals to 9-16 year old girls.
- The discontinuation of the U19 circuit and U11 nationals.