Silverbacks cease operations

Credit: Hyosub Shin

Credit: Hyosub Shin

The Atlanta Silverbacks pro soccer team has ceased operations.

The NASL, which was running the franchise while it looked for new owners, announced the fate of the team on Monday.

“The goal all along has been to secure committed local ownership in Atlanta, but despite significant conversations with a number of interested parties, we were unable to identify a group that could lead the Silverbacks in a direction consistent with the rest of our clubs,” NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson said in a statement emailed to the media. “It’s unfortunate, and particularly sad for the Silverbacks’ passionate fan base, which has supported the club tremendously throughout the years.”

The franchise has stopped and started under different names several times, most recently when owner Boris Jekunica re-started the team in 2011.

The team joined the North American Soccer League but was never able to enjoy sustained success. Its best season came in 2013 under technical director Eric Wynalda when it finished first in the league’s 2013 spring season. The team never finished higher than sixth in any other season in the past five years.

Jerkunica brought in additional partners in 2013, but began to try to sell the franchise in 2014.That was the same year that Atlanta United came online as an expansion franchise in MLS.

The NASL took over the Silverbacks as stewards for the 2015 season.

“This is obviously a disappointing day for anyone that has been involved with the club over the years,” Silverbacks President Andy Smith said in a statement released to the media. “The organization created some great memories for the city of Atlanta and its soccer fans, but as we all know, you need ownership to continue on. We appreciate all of the time and effort the league and its owners have invested in their search for long-term Silverbacks ownership - they truly turned over every rock in the process. On behalf of the organization, I want to thank all of our staff members, players, coaches, partners, and most importantly fans for their loyal support.”

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