Suffolk to launch its own professional badminton team next month

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Suffolk will be launching its own professional badminton team to enter the AJ Bell National Badminton League (NBL) next month.

The official launch of the Suffolk Saxons will take place in mid-March, and will reveal their home venues, coach and early sponsors for the 2016-17 season.

The newly-formed team, managed by Abbeycroft Leisure, will join the Bristol Jets as the two new teams who will compete with the existing franchises from around the country.

Abbeycroft Leisure’s Warren Smyth 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.”

The NBL is the UK’s first ever professional badminton league and was launched in 2014, featuring a modified version of the game with unique rules including shortened scoring, tie-breaks and double-point ‘PowerPlays’.

In its first season in 2014-15, matches were watched by more than 700,000 people across the UK on Sky Sports, with thousands more watching on Eurosport in Asia and the Pacific region, and online.

Adrian Christy, Chief Executive of Badminton England, 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 Saxons’ 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.”