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Staff photo by Patrick MacCoon / Newly announced Chattanooga Football Club director of operations Jeremy Alumbaugh speaks to fans at the Chattanooga Brewing Company on Tuesday night.

As the new director of operations for the Chattanooga Football Club, Jeremy Alumbaugh realizes how significant building relationships in his new city will be.

Moving a high-level amateur soccer club to the professional level is a step Alumbaugh believes will take an all-out press from players, staff and fans.

"I saw some of these same fans stand in the rain for 90 minutes chanting and cheering as if it was the most important game of the year," the Saint Louis FC general manager who officially starts with CFC on Dec. 1 said Tuesday. "This fan base is passionate. Their support and how much this club means to them is obvious. I am looking forward to seeing them in Finley Stadium, hearing their ideas and getting to know them."

Alumbaugh joins a 12th-year club that has made major noise in the American soccer landscape since its grassroots beginning.

On top of winning eight NPSL Southeast Conference titles, appearing in four national finals and winning the Hank Steinbrecher Cup championship in 2015, CFC also has shown remarkable innovation.

From letting its fans enjoy home matches against famous international teams such as Real Betis and Comunicaciones FC to using a supporter-ownership model similar to the Green Bay Packers, the club caught eyes around the country and world.

"Like a lot of soccer groups or clubs, CFC started with a bunch of guys who wanted to help soccer grow in this community," Alumbaugh said. "What they have done is really unique. They have been a trend setter, and now it's time for the club to take the next step and push things forward."

Ready to take on uncharted waters in the National Independent Soccer Association, Chattanooga FC will play from February through November of 2020 with spring and fall seasons. The sanctioned league is tier-3 of professional soccer.

"It's exciting we have outgrown our founding group to be able to manage Chattanooga Football Club," former CFC president Sheldon Grizzle said. "To be able to bring in Jeremy is a testament to what this community has built with the club. It's truly an honor to have him here as a part of club we believe to be one of the most relevant and popular clubs in the country."

Alumbaugh said the most important thing is being able to work with good people. And he says he has just that with his new club.

"(Coaches) Bill Elliott and Peter Fuller will build the vision of the team, and I can't wait to work with them and so many others," Alumbaugh said. "My job is to make sure that the business, operation and community side is stronger than it has ever been so we can give them the resources to go out and put that quality team together. We are going to try and punch above our weight and stay true to our values."

Contact Patrick MacCoon at pmaccoon@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon.

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