National Badminton League ends due to funding cuts
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After three successful seasons and a massive boost in exposure for badminton itself, it was confirmed on Wednesday that The National Badminton League will be terminated with immediate effect.
Despite Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge winning bronze in the men’s doubles at the Rio Olympic Games UK Sport cut badminton’s funding and as a result the three-year, profile-boosting adventure is over.
Over 1.3 million viewers saw The National Badminton League through Sky Sports, BT Sport and online. The end of that exposure could have hugely important long term repercussions for the sport of badminton. More than 130 players took part in the league and their chance to display their skills in-front of large crowds in televised competition is over, for now.
Badminton England expressed the view that the NBL was not self-sustainable financially, in the short term. As a result funding cuts essentially crippled their ability to continue organising the tournament.
In a statement on the cessation of the League Adrian Christy, CEO of league administrators Badminton England, had this to say:
“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.”
Christy was also keen to note the important contributions of university teams:
“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 (sic) off the ground.”
Cuts like this, which result in such a dramatic reduction in exposure for badminton, pose questions about the long term future of the sport. How will new athletes be attracted without televised coverage? What is the sport’s scope for growth?
These are new uncertainties faced by Badminton England in the light of funding cuts and ones they may not be alone in combatting.
Archery, goalball, fencing, table tennis, weightlifting and wheelchair rugby are all also seeing severe funding cuts. Will those cuts see similarly seismic changes in exposure and publicity for their respective sports?