Byrd brings more than 30 years of experience with big plans for growth as the club continues its 15th season with an undefeated men’s team
Chattanooga, Tenn. – (July 21, 2023) – Chattanooga Football Club (CFC) announced today the appointment of global sports executive Alton Byrd as its next Chief Executive Officer, positioning the club for exponential growth midway through its 15th season in Chattanooga and its third full season as a professional club. The CFC men’s team is currently undefeated, sitting in first place, and leading attendance in the National Independent Soccer Association.
Byrd has accumulated over 30 years of sports and brand marketing experience as a European professional basketball player, head coach, general manager, entrepreneur and business executive. In his new role at CFC, he will put a special focus on growing the club, investing more resources into the community and creating a high-performing team on and off the field.
“Alton is making a positive impact in our organization already by ramping up staff and bringing new ideas from his global experiences,” said CFC Board Vice-Chairman Davis Grizzard. “The national search introduced us to some incredible candidates from different levels of soccer and professional sports overall; however, it became increasingly clear that Alton’s values and growth mindset align with where we want to take this club in the future and he’s already proving to be the right person for the job.”
Byrd most recently served as senior vice president of growth properties and community relations for BSE Global, which owns the Brooklyn Nets, Long Island Nets (NBA G League), New York Liberty (WNBA), and Nets Gaming Crew (NBA 2K League Esports). In this role, he was recognized among the best in the NBA G League for community engagement and spearheaded marketing deals with some of the most iconic brands in America. Before his senior vice president role at BSE Global, he was chief revenue officer with the Atlanta Dream of the WNBA where he achieved the highest level of sponsorship in team history.
Byrd held a variety of other roles that have shaped his business experience, including Maloof Sports & Entertainment (Sacramento Kings) and the London Monarchs of NFL Europe.
“I’m honored to join Chattanooga’s soccer club to continue the momentum the team has garnered over 15 years and counting,” said Byrd. “Together with the board and ownership, we look toward an exciting future with a clear intention to honor the vision and the values that really sets this club apart. Chattanooga FC is Chattanooga’s club.”
Byrd has a track record of executing company visions, motivating teams, driving revenue, developing talent both on and off the field of play, and managing efficient business operations.
“Alton’s experience at some of the highest levels of professional sports has all of us excited,” said CFC Co-founder and Board Chairman Paul Rustand. “Whether it’s basketball or soccer, using professional sports to make our communities better is something that Alton has proven to do well at each stage of his career.”
“There's a lot of opportunity here in Chattanooga and at Chattanooga FC,” added Byrd. “This city is one where new and fruitful relationships are really possible. Over the next few years, we hope to enhance the strong foothold that Chattanooga FC has in Chattanooga with local and regional companies and create more interest throughout this large multicultural community. We want our Chattanooga community and our 3200 shareholders to embrace us as they always have and we want to continue to build a fun and interesting sports and community offering for families.”
Before his career as a sports executive, Byrd was recruited nationally as an all-american high school basketball player in San Francisco. He chose Columbia University in New York, where he was a 3-year captain and still holds the Ivy League school’s all-time assist record. He is a member of Columbia University’s Athletics Hall of Fame.
Byrd was selected by the Boston Celtics in the same draft that produced Hall of Famer Larry Bird. Following an injury that kept him off the Celtics final roster, Byrd played 18 years overseas and to this day is considered a household name in British basketball. Among the clubs that he played for were Crystal Palace and Manchester United, which also have soccer teams in the Premier League.
"Alton is considered by many to still be the best player ever to play in British Basketball" said English journalist Ian Whittell, in a story for Columbia University . "He is certainly the most successful in terms of the honors and trophies he's won. He's probably the closest thing we ever had to a household name in British basketball."
Byrd is a dual citizen in the U.S. and Great Britain. Spending two decades in the UK helped him fall in love with the world’s game. He is uniquely positioned to bring growth ideas from his wide range of global experiences into professional soccer within the Chattanooga market. He is an unabashed Liverpool FC supporter.
“Sports is sports. Competition is competition,” Byrd said. “And the business of sports is the same whether it’s soccer, football, basketball, baseball, or something else. The principles of the business of sports are the same.”
“I’m open-minded. I’m willing to experiment. I’m willing to learn and see things differently. Being in Chattanooga will now be part of my rich tapestry of life experiences. I want to listen and learn about our fan base and about how we can increase our youth fandom and make our brand of soccer and in-game experiences appealing to all who enjoy live sports and entertainment in Chattanooga. More importantly, we want to truly impact the community more than ever-something Chattanooga FC has done very successfully over the past 15 years.”
Chattanooga Football Club is midway through its 15th season in Chattanooga and its third full season as a professional club. The men’s team is currently undefeated, sitting in first place, and leading attendance in the National Independent Soccer Association.
About Chattanooga Football Club
The Chattanooga Football Club (CFC) is Chattanooga’s homegrown American soccer team for more than 15 years and counting. CFC is known worldwide for its extremely successful supporter ownership campaign, which yielded over $800,000 raised from 3,254 people from all 50 states and over 30 countries. CFC is currently a member team of the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA) with its men's professional team and the women's premier soccer league (WPSL) with its women's amateur team. For more information, visit ChattanoogaFC.com, Instagram, Threads, Twitter and LinkedIn.
About Chattanooga Football Club
Chattanooga Football Club was founded in 2009. The CFC Men's team competes in the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA), which is in the third division of professional soccer. The CFC Women's team is a summer amateur team that competes in the Women's Premier Soccer League (WPSL). Chattanooga Football Club became the first soccer club to offer true ownership to the fans in 2019 with 3,200+ investors from Chattanooga, all 50 states, and 31 countries. CFC plays all home games in Finley Stadium in Chattanooga.