Ravenshead star Chris Adcock is looking forward to captaining the brand new University of Nottingham team in their inaugural game in the new National Badminton League against Milton Keynes’ MK Badminton at Nottingham’s Albert Hall on Monday night.
The four other franchises for the first season are Birmingham Lions, Team Derby, Loughborough Sport, and Surrey Smashers.
The National Badminton League - the first ever national league in the UK - gives fans a chance to get behind their favourite players and brand new teams and was first mooted 10 years ago.
It plans to change perceptions of badminton with new rules and formats, making the game faster than ever, increasing its appeal to new fans.
Matches will start at 7.30pm, with one game broadcast live on Sky Sports and the second match streamed online around the world, with a 24 hour delay in the UK.
Commonwealth Games gold medal winner and World No.5 Adcock said: “I’m really excited about the start of the NBL and being able to represent my home city, and to be leading the team as the captain is amazing.
“I can’t wait to get on court and hopefully inspire the next generation of future badminton players.
“I really think the NBL can make a huge difference to our sport at all levels, from grassroots all the way up to world class international badminton.
“Our first match night is at the Albert Hall on Monday and I hope that people will come out and support the University of Nottingham team.”
Doors open from 5.45 and the event starts at 7.30. Seating is unreserved and on a first come first served basis.
Tickets cost £12 adult, £6 child or £30 for a family of two adults and two children via www.tickets.sky.com/Badminton.
Adcock will skipper a strong squad of 12 players including Chloe Magee (Ire), Olga Konon (Ger), Carissa Turner (Wal), Panuga Riou (Eng), Robert Blair (Sco), Kristian Roebuck (Eng), Kieran Merrilees (Sco), Matthew Hughes (Wal) , Mike Roe (Eng) and Serena Midha (Eng), and U21 players, Ellen Mahenthiralingham (Wal) and Adam Hall (Sco).
The NBL matches will be played with shortened scoring. There will be five matches (men’s and women’s singles, mixed, men’s and women’s doubles) which all have to be completed inside two-and-a-half hours to allow for television scheduling.
The six franchise teams will play until April and a finals day with the top four teams will then be staged next June.
The Nottingham team has sponsorship support for the first season from Yonex, BM Catalyst, StrengthPro.co.uk and Mansfield Building Society.
If you arrive early you can also see tomorrow’s stars today as The University of Nottingham, Team Notts and the Greater Nottingham Badminton Network present a pre-match showcase of the county’s Young Badminton and Disability Badminton talent.
Nathan Robertson, the Olympic silver medallist, says that the NBL will set a new platform for the sport in the UK thanks to the “sharpened” Twenty20-style format, while younger players will gain maturity with the event’s game-changing rules.
“We are trying to make it an entertainment package rather than a long drawn out evening affair,” said Robertson.
“We want to attract new people to the sport and when you are taking children to an evening match you want them to experience the start and end of a match.”
“I have played in different leagues around Europe and they have strayed a little bit, but this is the first time we will have a match so short and sharp. To try and keep play continuous, there will be no breaks in play and if players want drinks during play then a time out has to be called.
“Currently, advice can be thrown on to the court the whole time by coaches,” said Robertson. “We will stop that unless there is a coaching time out.
“The hope is that players will develop maturity on court and we don’t have players turning around to their coaches after every point looking for advice.
“We are producing a completely different product. It’s still badminton with a few twists on the rules, but we will now have top quality badminton on TV and live at the location.
“Audiences can also follow team badminton for the first time, which only really happens at a Commonwealth Games.”
Millions of badminton fans around the world will be able to watch the new league after BADMINTON England announced an exclusive deal with Eurosport Asia-Pacific.
The agreement will see the NBL broadcast live to over 10 million homes in 16 countries including Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia.
For more information go to badmintonengland.co.uk/NBL or @NBL_Official
Adcock warmed up for the league opener with a good run to the mixed doubles final of the Yonex French Open in Paris with wife Gabby at the weekend, before losing Indonesia’s Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir.
Dutch pair Jacco Arends and Selena Piek were one point away from a World Superseries semi-final but blew two match points against the Adcocks.
Arends and Piek had leads of 17-14 and 20-18; nevertheless, the Adcocks stayed in the hunt and picked off five points in a row when they were match point down, to win 15-21 21-15 22-20.
In the semi-finals the England pair edged past Denmark’s Mads Pieler Kolding/Kamilla Rytter Juhl 21-17 19-21 21-19 in one of the closest matches of the day.
But Ahmad and Natsir picked up their third World Superseries title this year, outclassing the Adcocks 21-9 21-16 in the final.