Toronto FC Parts Ways With President & GM Kevin Payne After Just Nine Months
MLS Toronto FC has "parted ways" with President & GM Kevin Payne just nine months "after he was brought in to revamp a moribund squad," according to Cathal Kelly of the TORONTO STAR. Payne will "remain on to assist with a transition but do so without title." This is part of a "larger sweep of the executive suites that will continue with announcements as early as" today. Payne said, "I’m going to help the team through a transition period. I don’t want to -- I won’t -- turn my back on this club.” Payne was "brought in" by MLSE COO and former interim CEO Tom Anselmi, and he "arrived with the blessing" of MLS' head office. His tenure was "punctuated by a great deal of talk about how to revive a DOA franchise." Payne "promised a renaissance," but instead "delivered more of the same." Payne by the end of his tenure had "lost the confidence of his bosses, most importantly" new MLSE President & CEO Tim Leiweke. The two "worked together at Leiweke’s former employer, AEG," but that friendship "was not enough to salvage the situation." Payne "fell into the same pattern that bedeviled previous regimes -- falling in love with a small group of unattainable targets, then refusing to consider anyone not on his own wish list" (TORONTO STAR, 9/5).
RED STORM: The GLOBE & MAIL's Jeff Blair writes it "appears an inability to spend [C] $25-million played a significant role in Payne losing his job." That was the "figure the MLSE board had approved for the purchase of 'designated players,' and Payne was unable to execute a significant transaction -- even though ... TFC had an agreement with Uruguayan striker Diego Forlan." But reports "soon surfaced Forlan wanted to play for another MLS team or he was merely using TFC as leverage in negotiations to remain in South America." The "crowning touch to another lost summer might have occurred last month," when Clint Dempsey -- who shares the same agent as Toronto FC coach Ryan Nelsen -- signed with the MLS Sounders. Payne said that the club "didn’t pursue" Dempsey for "what amounted to altruistic reasons." He said that it made "more sense from a marketing perspective ... for Dempsey to be with a U.S. team" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/5). In Toronto, Kurtis Larson reports "whispers surrounding" Payne’s job security "began wafting beyond BMO Field’s walls late last month." The speculation "picked up steam last Thursday night" when Leiweke held a "semi-secret meeting ... for a small group of the club’s most ardent supporters." At the "top of the list," of reasons for Payne's dismissal "could be the discontent that was beginning to form throughout the Reds’ dressing room." However, Payne's "hard-line contract talks were a blessing and opened up a plethora of cap space for future signings whose impacts likely won’t be known until next season" (TORONTO SUN, 9/5).