Member-owned club announces ground-breaking agreement
The partnership represents a major step forward dual objectives: to enhance the Chattanooga community and strengthen the clubs’ strategic ties.
Nearly a decade ago, Chattanooga FC began a partnership with Volkswagen. That relationship led the club to eventually being connected to people at Vfl Wolfsburg. The famous automaker is based in Wolfsburg and is a sponsor of the football club.
Things grew from that connection, and Chattanooga and VfL Wolfsburg began talking about a plan to grow football in Chattanooga, known as the “Scenic City.”
“The club was first introduced to the great people at VfL Wolfsburg through our partnership with VW, and we quickly realized how many things we had in common” said Jeremy Alumbaugh, Managing Director, Chattanooga FC.Jeremy Alumbaugh, Managing Director, Chattanooga FC
Alumbaugh added, “In addition to providing our cities a high quality, local soccer club, we were both committed to developing our communities through the game in a way that promotes health, equality, and goodwill. Fast forward to 2020, and as the saying goes when times get tough, you rely on your friends. This last year, we really worked to deepen our partnership, and what we’re seeing today is just the first step of a truly exciting future together.”
The following three key components of the partnership have been identified by the parties as initial activations, with more expected in the future:
Activations / Chattanooga FC – VfL Wolfsburg partnership
- German First Division (Bundesliga) VfL Wolfsburg is the official kit sponsor of the 2021 away jersey;
- Chattanooga FC Women’s team will return in 2022;
- Enhanced academy, youth development will strengthen the Chattanooga FC mission, incl. coaching education
To what extent did the fact that Chattanooga is not a franchise, but rather is a member-owned club, play in the decision by Wolfsburg to undertake this partnership? Marcek Schäfer, Sporting Director at Wolfsburg indicated it played a critical role: “In my opinion, Chattanooga FC is absolutely unique and a true one-off” said Marcel Schäfer, Sporting Director, VfL Wolfsburg. “The club is owned by its fans, which resonates with me in a special way. I’ve been there several times myself and was always impressed and inspired by the vibrancy and energy of this club and city. I am pleased that we can support this extraordinary club with our commitment to further expand its soccer offerings.”
The 2021 Chattanooga away kit will feature Wolfsburg as the shirt sponsor. This marks the first time a North American club has ever been sponsored by a top-flight foreign club, without the foreign club being the owner/operator. Chattanooga FC believe that the iconic Wolfsburg “W” will resonate with Bundesliga fans around the Southeast, and around the world.
Volkswagen has a major production facility in Chattanooga, with over square feet (5,600,000 m2) and annual production capacity of around 250,000 vehicles per year. The facility, like all Volkswagen production sites, has a comprehensive plan to reduce CO2 emissions and to be an environmentally sustainable operation.
“We have a longstanding partnership with CFC, which we are now taking to the next level” said Michael Meeske, Managing Director, VfL Wolfsburg. “With this unique activation at an important Volkswagen location, we want to make our contribution to providing sustainable support to the local community. Our logo on the chest of the away jerseys symbolizes the fact that we will increasingly share our values and stance with the club in the future and not only support it through know-how transfer in promoting youth development, but also take an holistic approach together to drive this into a true partnership and in the course of this, also bring women’s football back to Chattanooga.”
Return of the women’s team
An important part of being a benefit to the community for Chattanooga FC was the ability to return a women’s team to the pitch, in order to create many more opportunities for female players seeking to reach the highest ranks of international play. VfL Wolfsburg will be directly involved in this initiative, building the structure of this team as well as playing an active role in strategic planning, partnership development, and programming through the CFC Academy, Chattanooga FC Foundation, and other community partners.
VfL Wolfsburg Women have been an extremely successful team, having won two European Champions League titles, six of the past eight Frauen-Bundesliga (German Women’s League) championships, and seven out of the past eight DFB-Pokal Cups (German women’s open cup) tournaments.
With the partnership, Chattanooga FC will be able to increase its offerings to youth soccer in the region. Wolfsburg will develop soccer engagement activities for children and also be involved in providing educational opportunities for men’s and women’s coaches, player development.
With the unveiling of this multi-faceted partnership, Chattanooga FC beleives it is leading the way forward for American soccer.