It is with enormous regret that Badminton England has today confirmed that, after three hugely successful game-changing seasons, the National Badminton League (NBL) will cease with immediate effect.
Since its launch in August 2014, the National Badminton League has over-achieved in its mission to bring a new and younger audience and greater profile, including regular TV broadcast, to the sport.
It has delivered some amazing exposure for English badminton.
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 has 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 3 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. However, the financial demands to continue to develop the NBL and the high standard of event delivery required, is a significant cost to Badminton England at a time when we are making tough decisions about our people and our activities as a consequence of recent funding decisions.
The NBL is something that we do not believe to be self-sustainable in the short to medium term and subsequently is something we are unable to protect alongside our attempts to ensure resilience across the core of our sport.
Adrian Christy, CEO of league administrators Badminton England, said: “This is a very sad day for English badminton, particularly the many supporters of the NBL whose passion and enthusiasm have made the past three seasons something to be so proud of.
“We have worked so hard over many years to develop our own national league and having to now make such a difficult decision does not sit easy. However, given the situation that we are seeking to bounce back from, I believe it is the right one when we have other priorities to consider.
“On behalf of everyone at Badminton England, I would like to thank all partners, players, event teams, staff and sponsors who turned a dream into reality.
“We would particularly like to thank title sponsors AJ Bell with the support of whom we were able to expand the league as well as Sky Sports and, more latterly, BT Sport.
“Most importantly, our heartfelt thanks go to the six founding teams – Loughborough Lightning, MK Badminton, Team Derby, University of Nottingham, Surrey Smashers and Birmingham Lions - and to Suffolk Saxons and Bristol Jets who added so much to the NBL when they joined us at the start of Season 3.
“Without your commitment, dedication and extraordinary energy, the NBL would never have gotten off the ground.”