Silverbacks add local ownership group

AtlantaSilverbacksLogo1 (AtlantaSilverbacks)


Heading into the 2014 North American Soccer League season, the Atlanta Silverbacks are not only welcoming in a new coach, but also a new ownership group.

The Silverbacks announced today that they’ve brought in a new ownership group consisting of longtime chairman Boris Jerkunica, vice-chairman John Latham, and brothers Henry and John Hardin. The Hardins run SCI Companies, a human resource corporation based out of Atlanta.

“The introduction of a new local ownership group is tremendously exciting for both the Atlanta Silverbacks organization and the local soccer community as a whole,” Jerkunica said. “Finding local ownership has been a long-term goal of ours. I couldn’t feel more honored to be a part of such a passionate and committed group of investors, which we’ll be actively looking to add to in the future.”

The new ownership replaces Traffic Sports as the majority owners of the Silverbacks. Jerkunica and Latham already owned minority shares in the club.

The Silverbacks won the NASL Spring Season title in 2013 with a record of 6-3-3, giving them the rights to host the NASL Soccer Bowl in November. Facing the New York Cosmos in the final, the Silverbacks were defeated, 1-0, after struggling through much of the Fall Season. Head coach Brian Haynes’ contract option was declined, ending his tenure after his first full season in charge.

The Silverbacks have yet to announce a replacement.


What do you think of this news? Glad to see more local ownership in NASL? Think that this could boost the Silverbacks ahead of the 2014 NASL season?

Share your thoughts below.

  • Commenter

    Logo looks pretty cool, some MLS clubs should consider upgrading their logos. They don’t have to change the image altogether just a few changes.


  • Silverbacks Supporter

    Very exciting news for Atlanta! The next few years will be a very exciting time, particularly with all the MLS rumors swirling.


  • iggy

    I do like the model of having teams “prove it” in a lower division. If they can get a decent following there, then should bode well for MLS.

    Silly question, what’s the meaning of Silverback?


    • Sam

      Good question. Curious myself, I consulted the all-knowing Wiki:

      “In a September 1998 press conference at Zoo Atlanta, the two partners also announced the team would be known as the Atlanta Silverbacks in honor of Willie B., a silverback gorilla who was a star attraction at the zoo.” ()

      …And here I thought it was about wolves or something. Apparently they used to be the Atlanta Ruckus and the A-League Atlanta before settling on the current name.

      But gorillas are fierce, so it’s still cool.


      • Sam

        …And I completely failed the HTML. Apologizes all. I will retreat into my corner of shame.


      • hose68

        Willie B. was a longtime fixture at the zoo. In the 70’s and 80’s he was behind a glass enclosure. He had a lazy boy and a TV. He used to sit in the chair and watch TV.

        Later in collaboration with Emory University, the zoo began an outdoor habitat. Willie B. was slowly introduced to it. They brought in other gorillas and slowly introduced Willie B. to them. Eventually, he had kids and grandkids that are now part of the exhibit. This exhibit is part of an extensive research study between the zoo and Emory. And, to my knowledge is one of the largest such studies in the nation.

        In the late 90’s the club and the zoo had a sponsorship agreement the club changed the name from Ruckus to Silverbacks. Most native Atlants (of which there are few) know the story of Willie B and the zoo’s involvement in the research of gorillas. The name is a fitting tribute.

        Much like Flames and Thrashers, the name fits for Atlanta. But, most outside of Atlanta don’t get it.


      • DCLee

        Thanks for the story as a former Atlantian and now DC(United fan) resident. I sat at plenty of A-League Ruckus games in the mid 90s with Bruce Murray and John Doyle(SJ GM) patrolling a high school stadium field off of North Druid Hills road in the A-T-L! Would love to see Atlanta make it ways into MLS and support the team like the other expansion franchises have their teams (:


    • ATL Fan

      Coaching announcement expected in January. Owners have gone on record saying Wynalda isn’t a lock.


      • ATL Fan

        To be clear, Wynalda may not want the job either. So there could be many reasons he isn’t a shoe in.


    • Chris Anthony

      Ownership is notoriously cheap, and I don’t think that will change even with the new co-owners. I’m sure Eric makes a pretty nice salary at Fox and doesn’t want to make peanuts managing an NASL team.


  • indydynamofan

    question..is there a chance that Mr Blank buys into the Silverbacks in order to push for MLS expansion with a team who has been around Atl for a while and built a base? Or if Atl got an MLS expansion will it be independent from the Silverbacks and thus force them to move or fold? I hope for the former if the Atl soccer fans think Blank will be a good owner…


    • yankiboy

      The Silverbacks ownership better be hoping that the pleasant scenario that you just floated out there is how things play out.

      Coz if an MLS club come to town they are not going to be able to survive operating as they are now. Just not possible that they can stay in the NASL and “compete” with an MLS Falcons/HDKingpin bankrolled side.


    • Chris Anthony

      That would be the ideal scenario, but everything seems to indicate otherwise. Based on comments I’ve seen in the press — including this AJC article — it seems Arthur Blank hasn’t had any discussions with the Silverbacks at all.


  • El Paso tx

    Why not unite powers and rebrand the team with Arthur blank. Atlanta chiefs or Olympic Atlanta


    • Sam

      They had a vote on whether to go back to Chiefs a year ago and Silverbacks won the vote. There is a lot of history with both names, but PC police are outlawing any references to Native American culture in sport team monikers – so Chiefs will never come back.


  • DCLee

    First ever soccer game was an Atlanta Chiefs game in Fulton County stadium. Hail the Chiefs (:


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