By KEVIN KOCZWARA
Kevin Payne lasted just nine months on the job as Toronto FC’s President and General Manager before the team decided to part ways with the former D.C. United president and chief executive officer. Payne will reportedly remain in Toronto with the team to help transition the team, but without his previous title.
“I’m disappointed, but this is the way this business works,” Payne told to Toronto Star on Wednesday. “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,” he continued.
Payne, though, won’t be alone in TFC’s newest attempt at an overhaul of the team’s front office. The Toronto Star reports that more executive changes will happen and announcements could arrive as early as Thursday, but coach Ryan Nelsen is expected to survive the club’s latest transition and attempt to remove itself from the doldrums of Major League Soccer.
According to reports, Payne’s inability to turn around Toronto’s poor run of form and failure to sign any marquee players caused his relationship with his bosses to deteriorate, and eventually left his bosses lacking confidence in him.
TFC will miss the playoffs again this season, which they have done every year the team has existed, and the Toronto Star reports that while the team slipped further down the standings, Payne was stuck on signing two potential designated players — Uruguayan Diego Forlan and Argentine Maximiliano Moralez. However, Payne was unable to secure their signings despite visiting South America in an attempt to lure Forlan to Canada.
Neither Forlan or Moralez ended up joining Toronto. Instead, Payne had brought in Matias Laba and Maximiliano Urruti as new signings, but they aren’t the kind of marquee players the team was hoping to add to the roster. Laba will be out for the season, but does looking like a promising midfielder, and Urruti has yet to show what he can do on the field.
Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Reds, also owns the NHL franchise the Toronto Maple Leafs and the NBA team the Raptors. All three franchises have struggled in recent years. MLSE recently hired Tim Leiweke as its new CEO to try and improve all of its franchises. One of his first moves looks to be parting ways with Payne, who he worked with at AEG in an attempt to restructure and get the team on the right path, something TFC has continually missed in recent seasons.
It’s another restart for Toronto. Another new era will begin soon.
What do you think of Toronto removing Payne after nine months as the team’s president and general manager? What does the team need to do to make it out of the bottom of the Eastern Conference?
Share your thoughts below.