Saturday, 31 January 2009

Yonex Badminton Rackets and the All England

The All England is just around the corner and no doubt it will be as popular as ever, with tickets selling out for the finals day, as has been the case for the past few years. This is good for our sport, but what is not good is the fact that Yonex have virtually taken over all the selling of badminton rackets and goods at the tournament. I have mentioned this in a previous post, but i got an e-mail from Apacs UK he other day that highlights this problem.

Apacs applied for a space at the all england to show off their rackets and stuff, but no sooner has they got permission than Yonex pulled the plug on them, and would not allow them to even have a stand there. Understand that even if they had been given a space, they were not allowed to actually sell anything, just have a presence is all they were allowed. Now they cannot even be there at all. This has also happened to Inflight Sports in the past, and no doubt other companies.

Is this good for badminton? Nope, not in my eyes. Yonex will have a mass selling project underway at the all england, headed by central sports, who are the only authorised yonex retailer allowed to sell yonex goods. This is great for central sports, this will be the week when they sell the most rackets and goods of the year. As well as selling stuff, they will have their business infront of all the people that matter, the buying badminton players from all over the world, but most importantly the buying public of the UK, who will remeber the central sports name, and no doubt think of them when they come to buy their next badminton racket.

The point is that the all england is the biggest badminton tournament on the circuit in terms of tradition and prestige. It was going along long before yonex came along to sponsor it. It is a badminton tournament first and foremost. The fact that yonex have sponsored it for so many years has helped it a whole lot. But why on earth should they be allowed to have a stranglehold on it just because they sponsor it? Why can they decide who has the right to show their products, and not even allow other companies to sell their rackets?

If the all england was sponsored by a company that had nothing to do with badminton, let's say it was sponsored by Barclays Bank. You would expect this company to have a strong presence, with stands offering their services. But you would also have other companies there too, like badminton manufacturers selling and promoting their stuff as well. The all england used to be like this, there were loads of stands on the concourse, and it was a buzzing atmosphere behind the scenes, with contacts being made, and companies selling rackets and other stuff. This has gone now, it is just a big yonex monopoly, you have no choice but to buy yonex.

This is crap. A badminton tournament should be a place where everyone can sell things, and badminton players can look at all the many different companies out there, and touch and feel the latest badminton rackets. Yonex should not be allowed to do this, and the ba of e should certainly have something to say about this, if they dare. They are the one's who have the ability to change what is going on here, but do you think they would risk upsetting yonex bu telling them to stop. Can you imagine what would happen if yonex pulled out of their sponsorship? The tournament would carry on no doubt, because it sells out, and they do have tv contracts with sky and others. But in my eyes they are yonex slaves, and i would welcome the ba of e to comment on this if anyone is reading this from the b a of e. I am a paid up memeber, so i think i have the right to know why this happens. I want a choice, and i reckon many other paying badminton players do as well.

As far as Apacs go, they are quite rightly gutted at being cut out of the all england completely. Other companies have felt the same in recent years, and this monopoly is not good for the tournament. The ba of e organise the all england, it is their tournament, they decide who sponsors it, they must surely have a say on what goes on at the tournament, and how it is run. So come on badminton england, you have the best badminton tournament in the world, so please make it a fair playing field behind the scenes as well.

To make this a bit more interesting, i am going to write me a letter to badminton england to find out what is going on, and get their side of the story, just to clarify this situation.

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