CFC links with more investors, may go pro
After working in silence in recent weeks, the Chattanooga Football Club has come out on the offensive.
The National Premier Soccer League club recently acquired a partnership with Lamp Post, a local investment group. The announcement comes on the heels of multiple reports the Chattanooga club is one of 12 amateur franchises that will be part of the NPSL’s new professional division.
According to a report from Front Row Soccer, the league will kick off with a Founders’ Cup, a competition that will run from August to November of 2019. The pro division then will have a full league season from the spring through November.
CFC would not confirm the reports, but the announced partnership with Lamp Post would suggest it’s possible if not likely. Lamp Post was spearheaded by the founders of Access America, and it wouldn’t be the first time the group had invested in a local sports team. In 2015, it joined Hardball Capital and other local investors in acquiring the Chattanooga Lookouts.
In addition, multiple sources have told the Times Free Press that CFC is “very close” to announcing a new deal with Finley Stadium, the site of its home matches. The club has been without a deal since the end of September.
“We are honored to have Lamp Post joining the team. Lamp Post’s partners epitomize how Chattanoogans invest in Chattanooga-based businesses and other ventures,” CFC interim president and general manager Sheldon Grizzle said in a news release. “We’ve known the Lamp Post team for years, and we are so excited about the energy they bring to the table. Everything they have been involved with in town is better because of it.
“They will make a difference.”
This year was CFC’s 10th season of amateur soccer, with the club having won five conference championships and having finished as national runner-up four times. It’s been a long offseason, one that started after a loss in the conference championship match, CFC’s second consecutive season of not making it out of the first weekend of the NPSL playoffs.
Former general manager Sean McDaniel left and took the position of president and general manager of the Chattanooga Red Wolves, a team that will play in the United Soccer League’s newly formed League One starting next year. Grizzle, who had moved into more of a board position while overseeing a number of promising business ventures, took over McDaniel’s former role in the interim.
The club has been interested in a move to a professional division for a couple of years but has been determined to find what it felt was the “right fit.”
It appears CFC may have found it.
“Bringing in Lamp Post is the next step in building a solid foundation for Chattanooga Football Club as we set our sights on the club moving to the next level,” CFC chairman Tim Kelly said in the release. “Lamp Post and its partners have done so much for Chattanooga, and we are pleased they are joining our team at this crucial time.”
Chattanooga FC’s Everson Lima, right, eyes the ball during a playoff game against the Atlanta Silverbacks in July at Finley Stadium. CFC, a 10-year-old club, might soon make the switch from amateur to pro competition.