Shorter matches will sharpen badminton as a commercial product, feels BWF president Poul-Erik Høyer, who insists the proposed innovations to the sport have the players’ interests at heart. The BWF Council will be seeking its membership’s approval to change three specific elements: a new scoring system (5×11), a reduction in on-court coaching and a fixed-height service law during its Annual General Meeting in May.
“Shorter matches will sharpen badminton as a commercial product and make it a more attractive television product. That translates into higher revenues and the resulting effect of that is higher player income,” Høyer said. Høyer listed shorter matches, less physical pressure, longer playing careers and increased earnings among the primary benefits, especially for those competing at an elite level during his infographic presentation.
“As outlined in our Strategic Plan 2016-2020, players are at the centre of our decisions and a significant part of our mandate is to provide the optimal environment in which they can flourish as professionals,” said Høyer, who won the Olympic gold medal in 1996 Atlanta Games. “At the same time, we must ensure badminton continues attracting and exciting fans in the competitive and cutting-edge sports-entertainment industry,” he added, urging stakeholders to absorb the detailed information which the BWF Council has circulated on its plans to upgrade the sport.
BWF’s proposals to tinker with the game have faced criticism from coaches such as India’s Pullela Gopichand and Denmark’s Kenneth Jonassen. Also top players, including two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan, world champion and world no 1 Viktor Axelsen, former world no 1 Saina Nehwal, criticised some aspects of the proposals. The proposal that faced maximum flak was the fixed-height service law – currently being tested at BWF tournaments.
Høyer said the service rule is integral to ensure the greatest fairness possible in service judging and the ongoing experiment is a critical step in the right direction. “This is another important matter for players and we want to find the best solution,” said the BWF President.