Report: Atlanta Silverbacks name may live on in lower leagues



The clock finally struck midnight on the Atlanta Silverbacks’ run in the NASL last week, but that doesn’t mean the club won’t live on.

According to a report from the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the name may continue to breathe on in another league.

The report states that Boris Jerkunica, the owner of the Silverbacks name, is considering several lower level leagues to keep the name in use. The third division United Soccer League, fourth division National Premier Soccer League and even the Women’s Premier Soccer League, which is made up of professional and amateur teams, are all under consideration.

Jerkunica asserts that the high operating costs of the NASL, which have risen in recent years, ultimately led to end of the team’s run in the second division league. The NASL assumed day-to-day operations and all financial obligations for the club in 2015 and conducted an ultimately unsuccessful search for new investors to keep the team in the market.

“We are looking for a sustainable model where the team pays for itself and doesn’t require the ownership group to continue to put money in,” Jerkunica told the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

In the same report, Jerkunica admits to not knowing the exact operating costs of the USL, but that he’s confident they are lower than the NASL. The incoming Atlanta United FC, who are set to join MLS in 2017, would seem like a natural fit for an MLS to USL affiliation many clubs have formed in recent years, but the expansion team recently revealed they have already agreed to partner with the USL’s Charleston Battery for their inaugural season. In the report, Jerkunica says that Atlanta United’s moves have no impact on the path he and his partners will take the Silverbacks down.

The fourth tier in the NPSL seems to be a more fitting landing spot for the franchise. The club has operated a reserves side in the league for a number of years and it wouldn’t take much to drop ‘reserves’ from the marquee. The semi-pro status of the NPSL isn’t something that Jerkunica believes would dissuade fans from supporting.

“A significant portion of the fans that come to watch don’t care whether they are watching ‘college’ players or ‘pro’ players as long as the fan experience is the same,” Jerkunica wrote to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “In fact, they have come to really affiliate with the Silverbacks and would like to see a sustainable plan going forward.”

A women’s team in the WPSL also seems like a feasible option. The commissioner of that league, Jerry Zanelli, is quoted in the report as saying that serious discussions have been ongoing for a while and the Silverbacks could even be playing in the league when the season kicks off in May. It’s unknown whether Jerkunica would choose to run the team as a professional organization or an amateur one.

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