The Badminton community in England woke up to some excellent news this morning. It was announced by Badminton England that a new Pro League, the “National Badminton League” will be established and the 1st inaugural season will commence in October 2014.
The first season will consist of 6 teams, Birmingham, Derby, Surrey, Nottingham, Milton Keynes and Loughborough. Matches will consist of all 5 badminton disciplines and will be played to all new rules which encourage fast action and exciting play. Players will be selected by each team in the form of an auction system, this will include GB Olympic stars, National team and Young Guns. This will hopefully ensure our best players will no longer need to head out to Europe at weekends to get their competitive badminton fix away from tournaments which is currently the case. Badminton England have also secured TV coverage via SkySports which is excellent news and will bring attention to the new league in its first year.
This has been a long time coming for English Badminton and is a much needed boost for the sport of badminton in England. It needs to hit the ground running with no mistakes to ensure it is popular, sustainable in the long term and more importantly gets more people involved in the sport to ensure England is a global force in the future.
Looking forward the new league will need to be expanded to include more teams to ensure its future and to cover the length and breath of the country. A lower “championship” league should also be created to filter down the same template into lower clubs and have a promotion / relegation situation, this will allow more players to have a slice of NBL action and will make the league more viable for the future. I feel however that the county structure is now outdated and needs a serious rethink by badminton england as to what the future holds for county badminton teams in England as this new league is a more than a suitable modern replacement for it.
Overall its a great step forward by Badminton England for the future of badminton!