Argosy Sports gets an inside look at TFC.
It’s not often that the president of a major sports club invites their supporters to a dinner for their opinion, but Tim Leiweke is not your typical president. Members of Toronto Football Club’s, the “Red Patch Boys,” an officially recognized supporters group for the team, went to Real Sports Bar in Toronto to exclusively meet with Leiweke and coach of TFC Ryan Nelsen to talk about the past, present, and future of the club. Toronto FC fans have dealt with numerous coaches and team changes in the past 7 years, which has led to zero playoff appearances, and a decrease in fan support.
There’s a difference between the Red Patch Boys and supporters of other teams in Toronto. Their fan base is organized to where they are not afraid to protest something they don’t appreciate, such as the rise of ticket prices over the past few years, which led to the decision of returning prices back to their expansion year in Major League Soccer (MLS).
Leiweke and Nelsen had us all up in the VIP suite in the bar, and came around for half-hour to talk to some of us before starting a question and answer session which would define the rest of the evening. Leiweke was well prepared for the meet and greet with the TFC faithful and was ready to prove that he really wants to put together a team that will not only just make the playoffs, but win the MLS cup. His first announcement was that coach Ryan Nelsen will return for 2014. Leiweke believes that they are both on the same page on how they want to rebuild this team, and Nelsen is the perfect coach to lead this team.
General Manager Kevin Payne was not in attendance, and no questions would be answered about him. This aroused suspicion of Payne and his chances of remaining with the club next year.
There were also a lot of talks this past off-season to who were the big name targets that Toronto FC was pursuing. It might come as a shock to Chelsea fans that the main man was Frank Lampard (they did also pursue Carlos Tevez but felt he wasn’t a good fit with the club). If Jose Mourinho, the current coach for Chelsea did not return to the club, we would likely have seen Lampard in a TFC jersey. However, Lampard is helping Toronto FC pursue another transfer target that TFC can sign in January. Those who might doubt the pedigree of the potential signings may remember that Leiweke is the man who brought David Beckham over to the MLS.
There are many positive things currently with the club. With the cost of renovations to BMO Field being between 60-100 million dollars, the possibility of the Argos moving to BMO, younger players being sent out on loan, and the future of season tickets to the club.
Despite TFC’s lack of success in the early beginning of the club’s history, there are certainly exciting times on the horizon.