By KEVIN KOCZWARA
Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment CEO Tim Leiweke said the search for a new General Manager to lead Toronto FC wouldn’t take long. Turns out, he was right.
Two weeks after parting ways with Kevin Payne, Leiweke found his man in Tim Bezbatchenko, who was announced at a press conference on Friday morning as the new general manager for the team effective immediately.
Bezbatchenko, 31, was previously the senior director of player relations and competition at Major League Soccer, and is someone that Lieweke hopes can turn around a franchise that has missed the playoffs every year since it’s debut season in Major League Soccer.
“Tim brings an analytical mind to the job along with the best understanding that I’ve seen of the salary cap and how to manage it,” Leiweke said in a press release. “He knows how to build a team that will win long-term and he believes, like we do, that his vision will have an immediate and positive impact on this team.”
During the press conference, Leiweke highlighted the fact that Bezbatchenko is a salary cap guru, having dealt in the last three years with every contract signed by the league in his role in the MLS office. In addition, Leiweke complimented Bezbatchenko on his relationships with every general manager in MLS, making a couple of digs at Payne for not having had good relationships with other teams in the league, which hurt the club.
“In working at the league office over the past few years, Toronto struck me as a great city with terrific supporters that has always had tremendous potential,” Bezbatchenko said in the press release. “I feel that my knowledge of the ins and outs of the league’s contracts and rules allows me to bring a unique and long-term perspective on rosters and budget. I look forward to working with Tim (Lieweke) and Ryan Nelsen to realize that potential.”
Lieweke confirmed during the press conference that between him, Nelsen, and Bezbatchenko, they have six designated player targets and plan on taking a trip to Europe in the next few weeks to meet with those targets.
Toronto FC currently sit in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, enduring another brutal season with a record so far of 4-14-11. They’ve been eliminated from the playoffs for the seventh year running, the longest record in the history of MLS
What do you think of this news? Do you believe this is a good hire? Do you see Bezbatchenko turning the franchise’s fortunes around?
Share your thoughts below.