The North American Soccer League lost its second club on Tuesday, when they confirmed that the Atlanta Silverbacks operations would be suspended, immediately. The club was operated by the league in 2015 as they looked to secure new, local ownership, something that they were unable to accomplish as the new season approached.
NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson released the following comments about the decision:
"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. It’s unfortunate, and particularly sad for the Silverbacks’ passionate fan base, which has supported the club tremendously throughout the years."
"We have made incredible strides in just five short years, and one of the key pillars of our league’s growth and improvement has been the emergence of a group of committed owners who believe in the long-term NASL plan. Unfortunately in Atlanta – a market we continue to believe could be successful in the NASL – there wasn’t an ownership group identified that met the very specific standards we hold ourselves to as a league."
Silverbacks President and General Manager Andy Smith had the following to add on the situation:
"This is obviously a disappointing day for anyone that has been involved with the club over the years. 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."
The Silverbacks now join the San Antonio Scorpions as former NASL clubs who won't be returning for the 2016 season, though it's still possible that both are sold to ownership in other markets, and return under a different name in the not-too-distant future. For mow, though, the league will add two new clubs to replace the departing pair, which were easily the worst run organizations in the league, along with a third expansion side in the fall.
We'll have more details as they're released.