The further expansion of the game-changing AJ Bell National Badminton League (NBL) continues with the addition of a new franchise team for the 2016/17 season, the Suffolk Saxons. The Saxons will join the Bristol Jets as the two new teams who will compete with the existing franchises from around the country.
The team, managed by Abbeycroft Leisure, is supported by a number of organisations including Suffolk County Council, Suffolk Sport and Suffolk Badminton Association
Adrian Christy, Chief Executive of Badminton England, the National Governing Body behind the AJ Bell NBL, said: “We are delighted that the expansion of the AJ Bell NBL continues and welcome Suffolk Saxons to the UK’s first ever professional national badminton league.
“The growth of the AJ Bell NBL is a key part of our long term plan but specifically into parts of the country where we know the demand for badminton is high. The East of England is an area where our sport is hugely popular and we very much look forward to the Saxons playing a pivotal role in our ambitions to continue to increase the number of people playing badminton as well as those who love to follow the sport.
“The Suffolk Saxon’s passion and enthusiasm is consistent with all those currently involved in this fantastic league and we are confident that next season the AJ Bell NBL will be better than ever as it continues to grow and attract new fans from all over the country and beyond.”
The AJ Bell NBL was launched in 2014 and features a modified version of the game with unique rules including shortened scoring, tie-breaks and double-point ‘PowerPlays’. In its first season matches were watched by over 700,000 people across the UK on Sky Sports, with thousands more watching on Eurosport in Asia and the Pacific region, and online.
Warren Smyth from Abbeycroft Leisure said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the people of Suffolk to see some of the best badminton Players in the world and is the result of the hard work of a number of partners.
“I am really looking forward to seeing the team in action next season and I am sure that Suffolk will welcome them with open arms and create an exciting atmosphere at each of their matches. This is an exciting time for Sport in Suffolk and the addition of the Suffolk Saxons will help inspire others to take up the sport and get active.”
Cllr Tony Goldson, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Health said: “In the last two weeks it has been announced that the world’s best female cyclists will be coming back to the county for the 3rd year running for the Women’s Tour, Olympic medallist Keri-Anne Payne has launched the 2016 Great East Swim and now Suffolk is to be part of the first ever professional national badminton league in the UK.
“Together they cement Suffolk’s growing reputation as a location of choice for major sporting events. This in turn brings economic benefits to the county, as it is showcased on the national and international stage, as well as providing a wonderful opportunity to engage more people in sport and physical activity and support our ambition of becoming the most active county in England.
“Badminton, particularly, is a sport that anybody can play, whatever their level, and I’m really pleased that a badminton development programme aimed at getting more people playing the sport will be wrapped around the Suffolk Saxons team.”