MLS deputy commissioner Ivan Gazidis, the No. 2 man at Major League Soccer after commissioner Don Garber, has been named the new Chief Executive Officer of English Premier League powerhouse Arsenal. The long-rumored move became official on Wednesday.
The move ends Gazidis' 14-year run with MLS that saw him be one of the league's original executives and work his way up to the No 2 post, which saw him be in charge of the league's player personnel decisions.
“I have been privileged in my 14 years with MLS to have worked with and for some of the best sports executives and owners in the world, whose vision, commitment and expertise have taken the league from strength to strength,” Gazidis said. “The League is superbly positioned for future growth and this provides me the opportunity to return home after 16 years in the United States. I am delighted to be offered the opportunity to work at Arsenal – a club rich in heritage and tradition – and I will bring all of my experiences at MLS to bear in my new role."
How will Gazidis' departure affect MLS? To a lot of insiders, Gazidis was the real soccer brain behind league operations and his business and soccer acumen won't easily be replaced. I can't help but wonder if Garber's recent slip-ups (his handling of the Montreal expansion bid, his public criticism of the U.S. national team and his slip-up at the MLS Cup post-game ceremonies) weren't a product of him being distracted by the loss of his right-hand man.
No word yet on who will replace Gazidis, but senior vice-president of player personnel Todd Durbin is one candidate. According to league sources, Durbin had taken on a larger role in recent months, perhaps in preparation for Gazidis' impending departure.
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