For four years the Toronto FC faithful have been disappointed by the failure of the Reds to reach the post-season.
Tom Anselmi, chief operating officer of Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment, wants supporters to know something – he’s sorry.
After firing general manager Mo Johnston and head coach Preki Radosavljevic in mid-season, TFC couldn’t regain its earlier success, leaving the franchise with no playoff hopes.
“The season didn’t pan out the way it was supposed to and our fans are upset, we don’t blame them, we are as well,” said Anselmi to Bob McCown of The FAN590.
“We have a situation that wasn’t right and we changed gears Sept. 14 and we’re working hard to put a front office in place that’s going to lead this team in the right direction.”
Though filling the vacant positions is a priority, Anselmi assures the franchise won’t rush into any decisions.
“We’re going to move as quickly as we can but we’re going to wait and find the right person and that person will build the team and we’re on with it,” Anselmi explained. “In the mean time Earl Cochrane, Jimmy Brennan, people like that, are very qualified to lead us for what we got to do in the next little while.”
When MLSE finds the right person to help rebuild the hopes of the Reds it may be an import unfamiliar with the North American game.
“We’re into it very early, we’ve got people flying at us from every corner of the globe telling us they’re interested,” said Anselmi.
“The pool is fairly shallow in North America and it’s also changing now, when we joined the league three or four years ago the average team had one or maybe two technical people leading the charge. Now it’s starting to evolve more like other sports in North America where there’s a GM that really setting the tone but he builds a team of people around him that have various expertises.
“So that tells me that someone with a little bit less North American experience could do the job.”
With one of the most unique fans bases in North America, it doesn’t help that TFC released a season-ticket renewal that will bump up prices, despite a fourth straight year of abysmal play.
“We’re learning a lot as we’re going through this process, we got 17,000 season ticket holders, and probably about 15,000 or 16,000 of them behave like your average North American sports fans, but there’s a couple 1,000 that are very avid passionate soccer fans,” said Anselmi.
“They think and behave more like European fans, they’ve been responsible for the great entertainment that we see at the building, they’re the conscience of the team in some respects and they’ve been loud on clear on this one.
“In hindsight you know it was a mistake and we screwed up so we’re going to fix it.”
Looking ahead the MLSE brass will be hard pressed to improve the fortunes of the Reds all in the hopes of regaining the trust of its fans.
“Our job is real simple now,” Anselmi said to the Toronto Star. “It’s to deliver them a product they can be proud of, give them something to cheer about.
“We’re going to turn it around.”