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Toronto FC to part ways with Payne

Kevin Payne.


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.


  1. Payne should never have been thrust on TFC. The man is a joke, who had his success in MLS back when the league was a lot smaller and far less sophisticated.

    And Tom Anselmi, COO of MLSE is the next person who needs to walk the plank because he is the one senior executive constant behind the 7 years of pathetic history which is TFC. He is the one who wanted the Dutch neophytes who were unwanted in their home country. He is the one who was so enthralled with Mo Johnston that he continued to seek his advice even after letting him go, he’s the one who agreed to bring in Payne and the list goes on

    Let’s see if Liewecke understands the Toronto market. It actually cares about soccer but most of the soccer aficionados ignore TFC because they don’t connect with the wider soccer audience and they have been such a pathetic joke almost from the start. If not for the club’s strong support over the years, despite the lack of almost any success, there wouldn’t be anything positive at all to reminisce about

    • Now that’s just silly. Bruce Arena had early success with MLS, so I guess it was only b/c the league was in it’s infancy and had nothing to do with any coaching talent. Payne was also one of the organizers of the US World Cup effort. Payne has been involved in MLS as long or longer than any one else I can think of. Kevin Payne has his strengths and his weaknesses–we can debate those. But saying just b/c his clubs have only won a couple of titles and some of those were early, he’s therefore a joke is….silly.

  2. As soon as MLSE hired Lieweke, I knew Payne wouldn’t last a year.

    Kevin Payne is a big personality. Tim Lieweke is a big personality. Both have strong opinions and they can’t co-exist in the same organization. I personally think that if given time, Payne would have helped turnaround TFC. He knows soccer, he’s very experienced at this, has tremendous passion, knows the league, and has a good track record at identifying coaches (remember–he pushed hard to hire Caleb Porter 4 years ago). All of the official reasons for Payne being dismissed are bunk. What it really comes down to is that Lieweke wants to be the one deciding who the DPs are…not the coach or not the club President (Payne). And Payne isn’t content to let the MLSE President be the one deciding who the marquee talent is going to be.

  3. As a season ticket holder – 3 tickets….nothing short of bringing in 3 marquee names in January will provide an incentive to re-up. I’ve followed MLS long enough to know big names don’t translate to winning but sadly I’ve lost my excitement and passion for the team. It is hard to justify heading downtown from the suburbs for such a poor product. I’ve missed about 4 or 5 matches already and let the seats sit empty. I’ve watched as promising (+exciting) young players like Plata and Silva be shipped off for nothing in return. If they are intent on fielding a losing side than please, please give us a few players we enjoy watching while losing – if that makes any sense.

    As for Nelsen – he is simply the wrong person at the wrong time…though his confidence in Osorio has really been a big plus for this team. It would be a shame if a new coach came in and didn’t have the confidence in Osorio. Come to think of it Nelsen has probably shown the most confidence in fielding young Canadian players of any of TFC’s long list of former coaches.

  4. Add in Leiweke’s comments today! TFC might lose SSS and allow football to be played at BMO. Which of course means getting rid of the grass

  5. Two thoughts:

    1) The game has passed Payne by

    2) Remember how cocky TFC fans were when they joined MLS? They were gonna teach us all about “a proper club” and “proper footy culture.” They are an absolute joke, right up there with Chivas.

    • joke? really? what would any other clubs average attendance be after 7 years of near bottom of the table stuff; would anyone top 19,300?

      • Because TFC is a joke.

        And i want to hear their haughty fans admit that their team is pathetic & that they are English wannabe fans.

        7 years in the league & no playoffs? In a league where HALF the teams make the playoffs? That’s terrible

        Admit your team is terrible & that you were far too full of yourselves at the outeset & I won’t say it anymore.

        Fail to do that & I will keep saying it for you!

      • You spend waaaay too much time thinking about TFC. Why do you have this giant chip on your shoulder? Time to get over it and move on with your life

  6. How do expect anyone to do anything significant with that club in less than a year? Unless he made promises he couldn’t keep, Payne should have been given more time…

  7. Kind of a familiar story with Payne. He’s got a little of the Ahab in him — always hunting for the big white whale, with no real plan B. If Veron had gotten on that plane to DC, MLS history would have been very different.

  8. Hey Ives! Can you get your writers an editor? There’s almost one mistake in every article posted. By the way I visit your site several times a day. I am also available if you decide you need one.

    • The Mo/Preki era remains the high water mark. Even Nelsen bucks the MLS system a little and you see the continued (poor) results. They either need to go more “all in” in a focused manner like Montreal on acquiring foreigners, or they need to stick more to traditional MLS personnel tactics like the Western elite.

      I’d like to see TFC get someone like Bradley, Arena, or Sigi with experience who knows the league, give them an extended period to build the team. I understand the close of 2009 was devastating but MLS expansion success is incremental and what happened in 2009-2010 and then thereafter has basically reverted them back to the personnel of an expansion side.

      • serious question: Why would ANY of those coaches mentioned take a job with the dumpster fire that is TFC? Bradley’s doing amazing things in Egypt, Sigi has a talented team, dedicated ownership and a massive fan base, and Arena lives in LA, does what he wants, and works for the crown jewel of MLS.

        The answer, to any opening head coaching gig, is Richie Williams

      • TFC were on the right path with their Dutch revolution but got impatient with the short term results. They were playing attractive soccer but the top brass couldn’t wait another year or two for it to come to fruition. This was the best soccer they were playing and now they are back to when they started playing kick and run.

      • There are a lot of reasons;

        1. TFC has no more than a half a dozen players on guaranteed contracts going into 2014; They have a lot of cap freedom and will have 2 open DP spots

        2. Whatever Tim Leiweke wants, Tim Leiweke gets; he has the full support of the MLSE board and he doesn’t take no for an answer (I am sure the LAG fans here can say something similar to those effects)

        3. MLSE board is more than willing to write blank cheques to TFC to bring in whoever Leiweke see’s fit; maybe not guys like Arena or Sigi, but I am sure guys like Lagerwey/Kreis would love to have the budget restraints burden lifted and they could do that at TFC

        4. Toronto is still a great city to live in; top 5 in the most liveable cities in the world, the training facilities and investments that MLSE have and are willing to make to do whatever leadership things will make the team successful are endless.

        Yeah Toronto sucks, yeah Toronto has got it wrong far too many times, yeah you could say TFC is cursed, but money talks too, and you would be hard pressed to find a more committed board, financially speaking, than the suits at MLSE

    • I hope kreiss and lagerway don’t go to FTC. However if RSL wins open cup (they should) and MLS cup then they will have won with RSL again and will look to leave unless RSL ownership reach much deeper in their pockets to keep them. I think RSL owners will have to anyways but kreiss has unfinished business with RSL and when he’s accomplished those goals then I could see him looking elsewhere for a new opportunity.

      FTC sound committed to Ryan Nelson anyways. As an RSL fan I hope both stay with RSL and make another title run for ccl next year.


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