SBD/November 28, 2012/Franchises

Headed North: Kevin Payne To Join Toronto FC After Parting Ways With DC United

Payne had been DC United's President & CEO since the league's inception in '96
MLS club Toronto FC this afternoon will introduce Kevin Payne as its new team President, according to Daniel Girard of the TORONTO STAR. Payne, who yesterday resigned as DC United President & CEO, will "have his work cut out for him at TFC, becoming the top dog -- both in the business and soccer operations -- at a club which has yet to make the playoffs in its six-year existence and finished dead last" this season. Payne will "be top executive with TFC, reporting directly" to Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment President & COO Tom Anselmi. Payne "faces a host of key decisions upon his arrival at a club which is under intense pressure from its disenchanted and frustrated fan base to turn around its fortunes." At the "top of the list is the fate of the coaching staff" led by head coach and Dir of Soccer Operations Paul Mariner (TORONTO STAR, 11/28). The GLOBE & MAIL's Paul Attfield notes the move will "bring TFC in line with the other Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment sports properties in having a dedicated president, a role Brian Burke fills with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Bryan Colangelo with the Toronto Raptors." It also will allow Anselmi to "get out of the firing line." Previously MLSE Exec VP & COO, Anselmi was "the one nominally held accountable by fans and media for TFC's inadequacies as a succession of head coaches were hired and fired." Whitecaps President Bob Lenarduzzi said of TFC hiring Payne, "They could have just simply maintained the status quo but they've obviously decided that they need someone in that position who has the MLS knowledge and the MLS leadership and in my opinion it's never too late and so in order to reignite the passion, this is a great first step in that direction" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/28).

UNITED THEY STOOD: In DC, Steven Goff writes Payne "raised United through infancy and some terrible teenage years, supervising a record four MLS Cup championship squads and helping wedge the sport back onto the city's landscape after the North American Soccer League's demise a decade earlier." But with a new investment group "looking to put its signature on the organization, Payne's parenting was no longer wanted." Sources said that he "was not fired ... but he wasn't embraced either" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/28).
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Franchises, MLS, Toronto FC, DC United

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