The Chattanooga Football Club (CFC) says president Sheldon Grizzle has announced he plans to step down as president at the end of this year, as the club transitions to a professional league.
The CFC says Grizzle will continue to work with the club as a director on the board, and stay on the boards of CFC Academy and CFC Foundation.
“As Chattanooga Football Club begins its second decade, we are fulfilling another of our commitments to the community and that is to bring locally-owned professional soccer to Chattanooga,” Grizzle said. “I believe that the turnaround job I came to do is complete and now we need to find an executive who has experience to help us further grow as we enter a new world of professional sports.”
Grizzle was one of the cofounders of the club back in 2009. Since that time he has been a director on the board of the club. Just over a year ago, the club announced Grizzle as the president. The club quickly secured its first multi-year lease with Finley Stadium, brought on new local investors, announced its intent to play professional soccer, and launched the first public investor offering in U.S. soccer history.
Tim Kelly, Chattanooga FC board chairman, said, “Sheldon has provided the right leadership to set us up for this move into the professional ranks and we could not have gotten to where we are without his passionate work. We know this was a difficult decision and we respect that he always has the club’s best interests in mind. As we look toward our first professional soccer season, we know the quality of the Chattanooga FC experience is important to our fans. We will provide the best experience with the best leadership for our fans and supporters.”
Kelly said, “With the great momentum we’ve built over the last year, we are prepared to move into professional soccer in 2020. A national search will begin immediately to identify an executive with professional sports experience to build on the great foundation we have. We believe in an authentically homegrown club for Chattanooga and the new leader will continue to make that happen.”
In addition to assisting with the leadership transition, the CFC says Grizzle will be leading Avant Soccer in partnership with the club to provide strategic guidance to existing and prospective community-minded ownership groups who want to build strong, local clubs in their cities. “In the end, it is about knowing and supporting your community and the Chattanooga FC model shows a path forward to new and existing clubs around the country,” he said.