The dramatic failure of Toronto FC this year, after a struggling season was concluded as the club blew its chance of making the playoffs by getting torn apart 5-0 by Red Bull New York, has thrown the entire direction of the team up for debate as well as the future of general manager Mo Johnston.
Paul James in the Globe and Mail says TFC have been ignoring the basic requirements in the recruitment of the team, concluding that “without a clear vision as to where you are going and then a plan as to how you are going to get there, you really have very little chance”. Meanwhile, TFC’s owners, MLSE, are forced to defend Mo and the two-year contract extension they oddly granted him in the middle of a mediocre season saying that “the direction is the right direction”. I barely dare ask if TFC fans agree: the club may be profitable, but failing to make the playoffs in its first three seasons is obviously unacceptable performance-wise.
Johnston is lucky that TFC do not have the same system as Seattle, where the supporters’ membership get to vote on their general manager every four years and can call a special election in between. Drew Carey, the Seattle Sounders celebrity part-owner, is interviewed by the Sports Business Journal, and says it was this system itself that prompted him to get involved in MLS, as he discusses the highs and lows of ownership.
Self-aggrandizing perhaps, Carey says he loves being involved with Seattle because “you can see which teams are run by people who love the game and which teams are run by accountants. There are a lot of teams out there strictly run by accountants,” pointing at the riches being made by the ever-struggling Detroit Lions in the NFL. Carey continues, “Joe Roth, me, Adrian Hanauer, Vulcan Group, we’ve all got plenty of dough. We’re only in it to win and to put out a good product. Nobody buys an MLS franchise thinking, “Oh, I’m going to make so much money.””
Toronto fans may beg to differ as they consider the business plan MLSE has demonstrated so far. Perhaps it’s time MLSE demonstrated some commitment to the fanbase that’s making them a lot of money and gave them a say in who runs the club.
- Sid Lowe in the Guardian asks if Athletico Madrid are Europe’s worst-run club, ahead of their clash with Chelsea today — that would be quite an achievement, but he makes a pretty good case.
- The financial mess at Hull City is broken down by Matt Lawton, who reveals the alarming fact the club spent £5.5million in agents’ fees in the two years Paul Duffen was the club’s chairman and chief executive”, with a £40 million wage-bill threatening the future of the club. New Hull City chairman Adam Pearson tried assuage fears by saying the club was in “no danger”, but it remains unclear how the £22m the club owes can possibly be repaid.
- A Member of Parliament on Tyneside has called for Newcastle owner Mike Ashley to reconsider selling the naming rights to St. James Park.
- UEFA boss Michel Platini again discusses his plans for reform and regulation of European football, believing it would ultimately benefit English football’s financial model. His more than reasonable explanations of his reasoning deserve more consideration than screaming tabloid headlines about the Frenchman’s plans to destroy English football.
- In what could have been an interesting article but ends up being a bit of direction-less ramble (as is common on goal.com), a strangely uncredited author looks at Kawasaki Frontale’s disappointing failure to live up to their promise once again after the defeat to FC Tokyo in the Nabisco Cup final. We need more articles like these in English on Asian football, but we do need them to be edited a little better.
- EPL Talk looks at the surging ratings for EPL games on Fox Soccer Channel, which have grown a remarkable 69% in the past year with highs of almost 300,000 viewers becoming a regular occurrence despite its continued niche status on cable networks, reaching only 34.7 million homes. With the channel going HD in January and the Premier League rights sewn up for a few years ahead, the future looks very bright for FSC. MLS ratings grew even faster, up 89% and averaging 51,000 per broadcast.
- One of the better blogs out there, Some People Are On The Pitch, celebrated its 1,000th post today. Keeping a blog going with good quality posting for three years is a tremendous achievement. Check it out as they move towards the next thousand.
The Sweeper appears daily. For more rambling and links throughout the day every day, follow your editor Tom Dunmore @pitchinvasion on Twitter.