How do you build a football club from the very beginning? No name, no staff, no facilities. Then, how do you build it to a standard where it can begin its life in the MLS – one of the fastest growing leagues in the world?

It’s a challenge that Charlotte FC’s sporting director Zoran Krneta has had to face head-on since his appointment eight months ago, but one that he has relished.

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“It’s super exciting,” the VSI delegate says. “It’s not like walking into an organisation where there are hundreds of employees and you’re coming in to change some ideas, change some habits and maybe change some people. This is building from scratch.”

Zoran adds: “It’s a novelty for me and everyone else. How many times in life can you say you’ve started a football club from zero and try to make it competitive and winning?”

After months of build up the club finally revealed its name in July, going for a traditionally British approach, similar to soon-to-be rivals Atlanta United. However, the expansion club – who plan to play in the 74,000 capacity Bank of America Stadium until their own stadium is built – have had to contend with their debut season being delayed by a year due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.

Zoran is realistic about the situation. He says: “It’s unfortunate that the beginning of the life of this new team is also the beginning of a life like we never knew on this planet. Covid-19 has changed the way we think and behave, and also the way in which we run our organisations. It’s visible everywhere, whether it’s a football club, Google or any other organisation.”

The club recently announced its first ever signing – Racing Santander captain Sergio Ruiz. However, Zoran explained the challenge of speaking to potential signings at a time when so much of the club’s detail was still undecided.

“It was very difficult to deal with people like agents, clubs and players and not being able to tell them the name of the club, the colours or the badge,” he says. “That was the first question!”

He adds: “I think, or assume, that we are the first club ever to sign a player without having a name, badge or colours! So that’s probably something (worthy of being included) in the Guinness Book of Records.”

Zoran is a delegate of VSI’s CEO of a Sports Organisation programme.