Music City sets sights on MLS: The rise and rise of soccer in Nashville – Telegraph.co.uk
In early 2013 Chris Jones was in aÂ NashvilleÂ bar with a group of soccer-mindedÂ acquaintances wondering out loud how to start a club.Â “How do we do this? What do we charge per year?” Jones asked over aÂ couple of drinks.
The local team, theÂ NashvilleÂ Metros, hadÂ just folded and Jones, who had worked in marketing for the club, wanted to make sure that the city’s growing love of soccer would not wane.
Inspired by English non-league team FC United of Manchester, he set about founding what was to becomeÂ NashvilleÂ FC, a community-backed NPSL clubÂ that would be run by the fans and for the fans.
Without any real finances to start a club, Jones made the first kit himself – Vistaprint T-shirtsÂ designed by him (“terribly”)Â before personally ironing on numbers on the back.
Fast forward three years from those humble beginnings, the city of NashvilleÂ has been celebrating the award of aÂ USL expansion franchise that will start in 2018.
The ultimate goal for the soccer community inÂ Nashville, however, is to gain a coveted place in Major League Soccer, withÂ NashvilleÂ SC’s owners working together with local businessmanÂ Bill Hagerty to gain a spot in the next round of expansion.
And Jones, then theÂ NashvilleÂ FC president and now theÂ NashvilleÂ SC general manager, admits that he is a little amazed about the noise soccer has beenÂ making in the Music City.
“Just a few years ago, there were typical English Premier League supporter groups and American Outlaw chapters inÂ Nashville, but there really wasn’t a local team to rally behind,” Jones told TheÂ Telegraph.
“What you found was you would come across a soccer fan, have a conversation and then that would be it. Everything was very segmented.
“There wasÂ a team called theÂ NashvilleÂ Metros but they were phasing out and I felt there was a need for all these segments of fans to be brought together.