Dean Smith

Charlotte FC Names Dean Smith as Club’s Head Coach


Englishman with Premier League experience set to lead CLTFC into 2024 and beyond

CHARLOTTE, NC (Tuesday, December 12, 2023) – Charlotte FC today announced the Club has appointed Dean Smith as head coach.

The 52-year-old former Premier League boss has signed a multi-year contract pending receipt of his visa.

“I’m honored to be appointed as the next head coach of Charlotte FC and cannot wait to start preparations for the 2024 season,” said Smith. “Throughout the interview process, it was clear that this is an ambitious club with the right ingredients for success and I’m delighted to begin a new chapter in Charlotte. This is a unique opportunity to be part of a project with so much potential to take to new heights in Major League Soccer. I’d like to thank Mr. Tepper, Zoran, Joe and the rest of the Charlotte FC leadership for entrusting me to lead this team and I look forward to meeting everyone involved with Charlotte FC.”

Smith brings more than a decade of managerial experience in the English football league system to Charlotte. A West Midlands native, Smith is best known for leading Aston Villa back to the Premier League in 2019.

“We’re excited to welcome Dean and his family to Charlotte to become the next head coach of Charlotte FC,” said Owner David Tepper. “We’re confident his leadership and experience will help elevate our Club beyond its first playoff appearance into a championship team."

Aston Villa, the side he supported as a young boy, was 15th in the Championship table when Smith took over in October 2018 and was ultimately promoted to the top flight following a 2-1 win over Derby County at Wembley Stadium in the Playoff Final. During the promotion-winning campaign, Aston Villa broke a 109-year club record with 10 successive victories.

In the club’s first season back in the Premier League, Aston Villa secured survival on the final day and Smith helped cement the club’s Premier League status with an 11th place finish the following season.

Smith was named Premier League Manager of the Month in December 2020 and oversaw Villa’s 7-2 thrashing of title holders Liverpool with the Reds conceding their most goals in a single match since 1963.

Known to have a keen eye for talent and player recruitment, Smith brought the likes of Ollie Watkins, Emiliano Martínez and Matty Cash to Villa Park. During Smith’s tenure, he helped continue the development of English international Jack Grealish who was sold to Manchester City for a then British transfer record £100 million.

“Dean is a well-respected manager with over a decade of professional coaching, including at the highest level of the game in the Premier League, and we’re delighted to welcome him to Charlotte FC,” said Sporting Director Zoran Krneta. “He has proven track record of sporting success across multiple levels of professional football and his man management style will be welcomed by our locker room. Dean’s excited to hit the ground running in Charlotte and we look forward to welcoming him and his family soon.”

His managerial tenure followed a distinguished 16-year playing career with over 500 appearances in what is now known as the Championship, League One and League Two at Walsall, Hereford United, Leyton Orient, Sheffield Wednesday and Port Vale.

Smith began his coaching career in the youth ranks at Leyton Orient before eventually being promoted to assistant of the London-based club.

He then moved to Walsall FC, the club where he began his playing career and featured 142 times for the Saddlers in the league. Originally appointed as Head of Youth of the same academy he graduated from, Smith took over the first team as caretaker in January 2011 and eventually earned the full-time job.

Smith’s tenure at Walsall was highly successful, with a string of impressive finishes in League One. Under Smith’s management, Walsall reached the 2015 EFL Trophy final marking the club’s first trip to Wembley Stadium in their 127-year history. Walsall was in 4th place in the League One table in 2015 when Smith departed the club for English Championship side Brentford FC.

Brentford never finished lower than 10th during Smith’s time at Griffin Park, a remarkable achievement for a club that spent the previous decade in League One and League Two. Smith recruited to Brentford future Premier League players Ollie Watkins, Rico Henry and Saïd Benrahma, among others. Smith departed Brentford for Aston Villa in 2018 with the Bees on pace for another top half finish.

“A priority for our Club remains progress both on and off the pitch. Dean has a strong track record of winning results, authentically connecting with supporters and ingraining himself in the local community which are all important responsibilities for our head coach,” said CLTFC President Joe LaBue. “We're delighted to welcome Dean to our Club and look forward to introducing him to the larger Charlotte soccer community in the coming weeks.”

Smith also has managed Norwich City and Leicester City in the Premier League, with the latter appointment coming as caretaker manager at the end of the 2023 season.

A press conference for Smith’s appointment will be held on Monday, December 18 at Atrium Health Performance Park, Charlotte FC’s new training facility in East Charlotte. Full details will be communicated in the coming days.



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