Scoop: Charlotte FC hires the MLS’s first “chief fan officer.” So what does that mean?

Scoop: Charlotte FC hires the MLS’s first “chief fan officer.” So what does that mean?

Shawn McIntosh. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/axios

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CFO means something different for Charlotte FC.

The Major League Soccer expansion franchise hired Shawn McIntosh as its first “Chief Fan Officer” to connect supporters to billionaire owner David Tepper. McIntosh officially will be announced today.

Why it matters: No other club in MLS has a full-time, salaried position like this. McIntosh reports directly to Tepper and club president Nick Kelly. His responsibilities include:

  • Driving the conversation and awareness leading up to the club’s inaugural season that begins in spring 2022.
  • Giving fans a voice in the front office and executive meetings.
  • Attending matches and events across the league.
  • Promoting and reporting on community services, products and services and corporate milestones.

Context: Since Tepper purchased the Carolina Panthers in 2018, his organizations have made a point of doing things differently.

  • Not long after Tepper helped the city land the MLS team, it became the first in the league to implement personal seat licenses.

My thought bubble: Can a club that’s yet to play its inaugural first team match have diehard fans?

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  • If he executes properly, McIntosh could help them reach their goal of an average 30,000 people per match.
  • If not, he could actually alienate fans by giving them false promises.

What he’s saying: “That’s all about relationships. Honestly, there’s no easy answer,” McIntosh said. “It’s them getting to know me. I’ve had the opportunity to meet with some of the supporters, and it’s just continuing to do that so they learn who I am as a person, forget the role, just who I am as a person, and knowing when I am here, I am acting in their best interest.

  • “I’ve had the opportunity to tell them, their ideas aren’t always going to come to life. Unfortunately, I may have to direct them in a different direction, but knowing I have the club’s best interest at heart and our fans, and making sure their ideas are heard, they may not always come to life, but they are heard.”

Background: McIntosh spent four years with Houston Dynamo in MLS, as well as time with Phoenix Suns in NBA, Las Vegas Aces and Phoenix Mercury in WNBA and Norfolk Admirals in AHL.

  • He and his wife, Michele moved to Charlotte with their 10-month-old son Leone and English bulldog, Barkley, from Virginia Beach.

The big picture: MLS announced Charlotte as an expansion franchise in December 2019. The club’s inaugural season was delayed from 2021 to 2022 due to the pandemic.

    • Academy players became the first to represent the club at Bank of America Stadium, hosting Atlanta United last Halloween.
    • The club has seven players signed: Adam Armour, Brandt Bronico, Guzmán Corujo, Christian Fuchs, Riley McGree, Sergio Ruiz and Jan Sobociński. Armour, Bronico and Fuchs are on loan with Charlotte’s second-division USL Championship side, Charlotte Independence.
    Shawn McIntosh of Charlotte FC

    Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

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