Launched in 2014, the AJ Bell NBL features a modified version of the game with unique rules including shortened scoring, tie-breaks and double-point ‘PowerPlays’, making it a perfect format to watch live and on TV.
Bristol Jets will face Birmingham Lions, Loughborough Sport, MK Badminton, Surrey Smashers, Team Derby and University of Nottingham Badminton from next season as the league goes from strength to strength into new regions, attracting new fans and raising the profile of the sport.
In its first year the AJ Bell NBL was watched by over 700,000 people across the season in the UK on Sky Sports, with thousands more watching on Eurosport in Asia and the Pacific region, and online.
Adrian Christy, Badminton England’s chief executive, said: “The UK’s first ever national badminton league has proved to be incredibly successful thanks to its unique format, exciting rules and the partnerships we have created with television broadcasters and our sponsors.
“Our aim has always been to grow the league from Season 3 and to take it to different parts of the country and we are delighted to welcome the Bristol Jets to the AJ Bell National Badminton League from next season.
“We had significant interest from potential franchises and it is fantastic that the AJ Bell NBL will reach new audiences in the South West of the country where badminton has a huge amount of interest, and we hope to announce a further team shortly taking the AJ Bell NBL to eight teams from the start of the new season.”
The Bristol Jets franchise is being delivered in partnership with Bristol Sport and the Avon Badminton Association.
Bristol Sport chief executive Andrew Billingham believes that their experience of running other successful professional sports teams will be of benefit to them in the AJ Bell NBL next season.
He said: “Bristol Sport is unique in the UK as we manage a group of sports teams including Bristol City FC, Bristol Rugby and the Bristol Flyers. We offer a one-stop platform for sports fans in the South West – whether it is playing or watching. By adding an elite badminton team to our expanding group, it not only reinforces our vision to inspire sport but offers the opportunity for local sports fans to get in to something new and exciting.
“I’m confident that following the success we’ve had with the Flyers basketball franchise, in growing their fan-base and inspiring youngsters to play, badminton will really compliment our group.
“Obviously there is a lot to do between now and next season, but it is exciting that Bristol will have a team in the top-flight and the synergies between the new Bristol Jet’s badminton team and the Flyers will, I believe, work well together to attract even more people playing and watching sport.”
Watch Ian Gorham, Chairman of the Avon Badminton Association, speak exclusive interview on today’s Bristol Sport TV, released later today – click here to subscribe to Bristol Sport TV.