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Respect for Fans and TFC


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Was reading an Interview on FanNation with Nick Sakiewicz, the CEO of the organization that owns the Philidaphia Union.

Despite the rhetoric in Year 1, TFC has failed to demonstrate a level of respect that TFC fans deserve. While some players (ie: Danny Dichio, Brennen and De-Ro) have demonstrated that they appreciate the fans, I don't think this mentality carries into the Management staff and the organization as a whole. MoJo's refusal to communicate honestly with fans and the secrecy of the organization is the perfect example of how little the organization cares about its fans and its supporters groups.

As much as I love the atmosphere at BMO Field, when they built the stadium, it appears that they were looking for the cheapest way to build a stadiam, with fan experience coming as a secondary priority (compared to Red Bull Arena, Rio Tinto or the underconstruction stadium in Chester).

The Philly organization appears to have the right mentality, this is Sakiewicz response when asked about the Son's of Ben.... "We take that very seriously and we don't ever take them for granted. The last thing I did before I went up to watch the game was I took this out and thanked them -- this is the first [sons of Ben] scarf. We will never take them for granted. Whether it's the product on the field, the stadium we're building for them -- we built them their own section of seats in the stadium. It's their 2,000-seat section, just for them. We put our player tunnel in the middle of it. We gave them their own entrance way. Those are the things we'll continue to do. We don't owe anybody anything other than hard work, a quality football club [and] a great experience at the stadium. That's our payback."

What are your thoughts?

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The supporters groups have an excellent relationship with TFC.

Paul Bierne is a class act. He is open and upfront when participating on the respective boards.

TFC didn't really build the stadium either. That was a combined effort launched well before the supporters group culture took off. The addition of an expensive grass field, additional stands and supposed plans for more washrooms ect... all seems pretty good.

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Your team is owned by MLS&E, an organization rife with uber-proitable perennial underachieving sides...

GTA is an underserved market when it comes to professional sports offerings, it is the biggest market when you really think about the NHL in New York (Rangers, Devils, Islanders) vs 1 team in the GTA, Bsketball (Nets and Knicks) vs only the Raps in GTA, and soccer, well... why ruin a profitable model.

Unless the GTA sports fan starts voting with their wallets and attendance I don't think they should whine about unfair treatment from the Brass at MLS&E and their teams.

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Your team is owned by MLS&E, an organization rife with uber-proitable perennial underachieving sides...

GTA is an underserved market when it comes to professional sports offerings, it is the biggest market when you really think about the NHL in New York (Rangers, Devils, Islanders) vs 1 team in the GTA, Bsketball (Nets and Knicks) vs only the Raps in GTA, and soccer, well... why ruin a profitable model.

Unless the GTA sports fan starts voting with their wallets and attendance I don't think they should whine about unfair treatment from the Brass at MLS&E and their teams.

What? I just said above that the relationship is good... so... ?

Do you really think it would help the game in Canada for BMO to be half empty? Or Swangaurd for that mattter?

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It's easy for management to remain unaccountable for the product they put on the field when the stands are full every game.

I think that is over simplifying things a bit.

With full stands you think they don't want/care about making the playoffs?

Winning and doing well sells more stuff.

Possibly playing games in the CCL?

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It's easy for management to remain unaccountable for the product they put on the field when the stands are full every game.

Nope... Its the opposite. The stands are full because they listen to the fans. I know of a few unique anecdotal example of this that I have heard of various people.

Last night the place, as always, was sold out. There were some 21,700 spectators at an MLS soccer game. There were just over 10K at Major league baseball game being played on the same night. This (baseball) for a sport that features the best athletes and highest level for its sport whereas MLS is nowhere near that level. It cant be a coincidence that this is the only ownership group in the city that is not struggling at the gate with its sports properties. That is if you exclude the Toronto Marlies. Hockey, Basketball and soccer are well supported.

All the the other ownership groups (Blue Jays, and Argos) struggle to draw fans. You have to be doing something right from a customer service standpoint to keep having them come back and pay more for your product each year. Pro sports are a business ( like any other business) where you have to sell tickets, have buyers and you have to have them coming back.

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Nope... Its the opposite. The stands are full because they listen to the fans. I know of a few unique anecdotal example of this that I have heard of various people.

Last night the place, as always, was sold out. There were some 21,700 spectators at an MLS soccer game. There were just over 10K at Major league baseball game being played on the same night. This (baseball) for a sport that features the best athletes and highest level for its sport whereas MLS is nowhere near that level. It cant be a coincidence that this is the only ownership group in the city that is not struggling at the gate with its sports properties. That is if you exclude the Toronto Marlies. Hockey, Basketball and soccer are well supported.

All the the other ownership groups (Blue Jays, and Argos) struggle to draw fans. You have to be doing something right from a customer service standpoint to keep having them come back and pay more for your product each year. Pro sports are a business ( like any other business) where you have to sell tickets, have buyers and you have to have them coming back.

I tend to agree.

I usually bash MLSE fans, but I'm a TFC fan myself (Canucks for hockey though).

But MLSE does offer more interaction with its support base than most ownership groups. In one way, it's part of the MLSE curse. They're almost too connected to the people they're offering the service, and this is causing problems. The Leafs, for example, face issues with respect to building a team because after one poor year, the club hits the panic button and tears everything to pieces. Subsequent poor years result in continued panic button pushing.

TFC is a prime example of this as well, as overreactions to fan dissent have caused severe continuity problems. One sincerely hopes that Preki stays on for more than one year, playoffs or no playoffs, because we need some bloody continuity.

I've seen the problem with the Saskatchewan Roughriders as well. Constant panic button on the Quarterback, repeated problems with inexperienced QBs who throw too many picks.

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What are your thoughts?

You maybe need to learn more about the history of MLS and how BMO Field was funded and built. When Nick Sakiewicz was working in the Metrostars front office in close to the sort of role that Paul Beirne has with TFC he had a very bad relationship with the fan groups because most of the I/Os at that point saw the youth soccer minivan crowd as their core market and wanted to marginalize what they saw as a potential "hooligan" element. Anything Nick Sakiewicz is doing now is a case of copying what happened in Toronto and Seattle. In the early years of the league only DC United really seemed to foster a strong fan group culture.

The money to build BMO Field primarily came from a federal government municipal infrastructure program for Ontario administered by Joe Volpe of the federal Liberals and was tied into the 2007 U-20 World Cup. Originally the CSA were going to partner up with the Argos who would be the anchor tenant in a facility that had to have fieldturf because of the need for a strong public access component. When the Argos pulled the plug on that it was MLSE who stepped into the breach and saved the day. The fact we have wound up with a routinely sold out 22,000 seat SSS close to downtown TO with a grass playing surface is nothing short of miraculous given the state pro soccer was in in southern Ontario only 5 years ago. Any time I'm at a TFC game I feel elated that something I waited almost 20 years to see happen very much more in hope than expectation has finally materialized. In a league with a high level of parity, there were never any guarantees that TFC would be a dominant franchise on the pitch. If people hang in there through the lean years the occasional highs will be all the sweeter when they eventually arrive. Support should be through both thick and thin.

Edited by BringBackTheBlizzard
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The supporters groups have an excellent relationship with TFC.

Paul Bierne is a class act. He is open and upfront when participating on the respective boards.

TFC didn't really build the stadium either. That was a combined effort launched well before the supporters group culture took off. The addition of an expensive grass field, additional stands and supposed plans for more washrooms ect... all seems pretty good.

MLSE benefited from tax payers money from three levels of Government, but ultimately, they could have stepped up to pay for a larger share of the stadium to make it better. They should have gotten it right the first time, rather than rely on bandage solutions after the fact. It was a positive decision to use a soccer specific stadium, but it was one of the requirements to get the franchise in the first place, its not like MLSE had a choice on the matter.

At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how upfront Paul Bierne is, the product on the field is pathetic and we are entering our fourth season. Its not like this is the only franchise that MLSE has had performance issues on. The same situation is mirrored with the Leafs and the Raptors, so the problems with this organization goes beyond Paul Bierne. Perhaps TFC fans have a good relationship with Bierne, but its clear that the relationship doesn't go beyond Bierne.

Edited by kyam
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The fact we have wound up with a routinely sold out 22,000 seat SSS close to downtown TO with a grass playing surface is nothing short of miraculous given the state pro soccer was in in southern Ontario only 5 years ago.

Well, the positive atmosphere has more to do with dedicated fans and the supporters groups, than the organization... however, I will give credit to MLSE on the grass. At $3.5 million, its probably the best patch up job on a failed experiment (the turf). It also makes for the best soccer pitch in the country (best pitch, but NOT the best stadium).

It's easy for management to remain unaccountable for the product they put on the field when the stands are full every game.

The Sounders fill the stands, both in the USL and in MLS... the fact that fans fill the stands every game has not had a negative impact on the product on the field. So it goes back to my assumption that MLSE pays little to no respect for its fan base, and this attitude is not limited to their TFC asset.

Edited by kyam
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MLSE benefited from tax payers money from three levels of Government, but ultimately, they could have stepped up to pay for a larger share of the stadium to make it better. They should have gotten it right the first time, rather than rely on bandage solutions after the fact. It was a positive decision to use a soccer specific stadium, but it was one of the requirements to get the franchise in the first place, its not like MLSE had a choice on the matter.

At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how upfront Paul Bierne is, the product on the field is pathetic and we are entering our fourth season. Its not like this is the only franchise that MLSE has had performance issues on. The same situation is mirrored with the Leafs and the Raptors, so the problems with this organization goes beyond Paul Bierne. Perhaps TFC fans have a good relationship with Bierne, but its clear that the relationship doesn't go beyond Bierne.

You are looking back with rose colored glasses. You expected them to throw tens of millions of dollars into a stadium that was %50 community center? Now that has changed they are upgrading the stadium, to which they are at the mercy of Ex, city council ect... They can't just do whatever they want.

What exactly is it you want?

As for benefiting from tax payer money, almost every hockey team in the country played for decades in publicly funded facilities until they built private ones.

MLS is a parity league. You can't simply buy your way to the top. This is not a billion dollar corporation with a team in a second division Euro league being frugal. There are limits.

If you really want a new stadium four years into the franchises history, you are going to need about 300 pounds of thermite.

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What exactly is it you want?

What do I want? What every other TFC wants. I want this organization held accountable for its on-field performance. First they blamed the pitch, then the officiating (Carver), then the coach (Cummin's). Now, we've made Garcia and Mo the two whipping boys, which is fine. They both deserve it.

But do you really think the problem lies between these two individuals alone? Its not just the locker room that needs to change its culture. Its the organization as a whole.

You seem so fixated on the Stadium issue. I brought it up, only as 1 example of what I thought was a prevailing attitude within MLSE. While Seattle, San Jose and Philly all signed DP's in their first year in MLS, TFC waited until their third season to even consider it. I can understand if they didn't want a DP to ruin a "good thing", but TFC had 2 last place finishes.

The organization has a culture of mediocrity and lacks respect for their fans, whether its TFC, the Raptors or the Leafs. Its no coincidence that the three clubs have now had consecutive years of post-season absence. Personally, i think they are starting to take for granted the unwavering fan support they have. Other organizations were able to build on the momentum created by the fans.

Edited by kyam
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You were complaining about the stadium being inadequate, tax payer funded ect...

The stadium is sufficient. It is 'cheap', but what is not excusable is that some aspects are poorly designed. Whoever the architect was should never work again on a public works project.

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It's probably not all clear from what I wrote, but I do actually mostly agree with you. MoJo has brought in a lot of good players but the combination of players and coaches ect... just hasn't worked. He had is chance and now with every last bit of skin shed... it's still not that great.

I think 'management' has made it pretty clear Mo is gone if we don't make the playoffs.

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I think 'management' has made it pretty clear Mo is gone if we don't make the playoffs.

Yes and I'm glad management made it clear to the public as well. Not all managers get the opportunity to build (or rebuild) a team twice. I hope he recognizes the opportunity he has. While I am confident with Preki's ability, Mo ultimately has sign-off authority and its really him responsible for signing the right players that fits Preki's style of play.

You were complaining about the stadium being inadequate, tax payer funded ect...

I was definitely complaining about the Stadium. But I have no problems with the project being tax payers funded. I merely identified the fact that it had public-sector funding. That said, they could have put forth a larger share of funding to make the stadium better.

In the case of MLSE's share, they contributed a total of $8 million for construction (Plus $10M naming rights). However, they sold the naming rights to BMO for $27 million. Government ended up funding the rest of the $62M or 87% of the cost to construct the building.

If you consider that MLSE sold the naming rights for more than they contributed to the project, MLSE really didn't contribute anything. MLSE actually profited from its construction without selling a single TFC ticket/merchandise. The City could have easily sold the naming rights themselves to pay for the cities entire share of construction.

Business is all about risk-management, not risk avoidance. With the help of the City, the Province and the Federal Government, plus the $27 million raised through naming rights, a large corporation like MLSE could have taken a greater share of the risk by providing more funding to the project.

Take Philly for instance, they are an expansion side with no guarantee of success. For PPL Park ($120M) The Private-sector contributed $80M, while the State and local government contributed $30M. Like BMO, the City would own the stadium. Public funds should supplement private investment. It should not be the bulk of the funding like it is in Toronto. With respect to the architects, I tend to agree with you on this one. Despite the low cost of the stadium, they could have done a better job.

Edited by kyam
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Nope... Its the opposite. The stands are full because they listen to the fans. I know of a few unique anecdotal example of this that I have heard of various people.

Last night the place, as always, was sold out. There were some 21,700 spectators at an MLS soccer game. There were just over 10K at Major league baseball game being played on the same night. This (baseball) for a sport that features the best athletes and highest level for its sport whereas MLS is nowhere near that level. It cant be a coincidence that this is the only ownership group in the city that is not struggling at the gate with its sports properties. That is if you exclude the Toronto Marlies. Hockey, Basketball and soccer are well supported.

All the the other ownership groups (Blue Jays, and Argos) struggle to draw fans. You have to be doing something right from a customer service standpoint to keep having them come back and pay more for your product each year. Pro sports are a business ( like any other business) where you have to sell tickets, have buyers and you have to have them coming back.

I'm not disputing the ability of MLSE to draw fans and sell out the stadium. What I'm saying is that the people who make the decisions for the end product (what you see on the pitch) don't have the same pressure as a club who doesn't draw well, and has to make the smart move (signing the right players coach etc.) cause they don't have the money to fix mistakes. TFC obviously does.

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I think that is over simplifying things a bit.

With full stands you think they don't want/care about making the playoffs?

Winning and doing well sells more stuff.

Possibly playing games in the CCL?

Their actions say otherwise.

I'm sure they want to make the playoffs, but you see familiarity breeds contempt.

Mo Johnston is still employed for petes sake.

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The investment in grass, buying Gol TV, expanding the stadium to get rid of the ridiculous looking open end for a concert stage and spending the dollars required to first sign a DP and then get Preki and Perkovic on board shows that MLSE are getting the job done behind the scences. The team was only 10 points back from the Supporters Shield winner last season (think about all those squandered points late in games for what might have been) and managed to beat the eventual MLS Cup winners in the second last game of the season. If they had been able to stumble in instead of RSL who knows what might have happened in the playoffs. Last season maybe was difficult to take for glory hunter types who have been used to following the fortunes of top Premiership or serie A teams all their lives but disappointing near misses are part and parcel of supporting a club that can't simply buy success the way clubs like Manchester United, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Inter Milan can over in Europe through thick and thin. Many of the core players in last year's squad were past their prime so the drastic revamp to build for the future makes a lot of sense. Time will tell if too much was done too quickly to make the playoffs this season but there were definite signs of life against Philadelphia on Thursday. Time for the more vocal portion of the fanbase to do less whining and focus more on supporting the team again, in my opinion.

Edited by BringBackTheBlizzard
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Yes and I'm glad management made it clear to the public as well. Not all managers get the opportunity to build (or rebuild) a team twice. I hope he recognizes the opportunity he has. While I am confident with Preki's ability, Mo ultimately has sign-off authority and its really him responsible for signing the right players that fits Preki's style of play.

I was definitely complaining about the Stadium. But I have no problems with the project being tax payers funded. I merely identified the fact that it had public-sector funding. That said, they could have put forth a larger share of funding to make the stadium better.

In the case of MLSE's share, they contributed a total of $8 million for construction (Plus $10M naming rights). However, they sold the naming rights to BMO for $27 million. Government ended up funding the rest of the $62M or 87% of the cost to construct the building.

If you consider that MLSE sold the naming rights for more than they contributed to the project, MLSE really didn't contribute anything. MLSE actually profited from its construction without selling a single TFC ticket/merchandise. The City could have easily sold the naming rights themselves to pay for the cities entire share of construction.

Business is all about risk-management, not risk avoidance. With the help of the City, the Province and the Federal Government, plus the $27 million raised through naming rights, a large corporation like MLSE could have taken a greater share of the risk by providing more funding to the project.

Take Philly for instance, they are an expansion side with no guarantee of success. For PPL Park ($120M) The Private-sector contributed $80M, while the State and local government contributed $30M. Like BMO, the City would own the stadium. Public funds should supplement private investment. It should not be the bulk of the funding like it is in Toronto. With respect to the architects, I tend to agree with you on this one. Despite the low cost of the stadium, they could have done a better job.

Oh... I am with you 100% on this. If 27 million was on the table for naming rights and the city sold it for 10, someone should lose their job or be in jail.

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Time for the more vocal portion of the fanbase to do less whining and focus more on supporting the team again, in my opinion.

Under any other scenario, I would agree with you, like if its one bad loss out of a relatively strong season. But when things are consistently bad, blind faith isn't "supporting the team". Blind faith is NOT holding your team accountable. The best supporters in the world hold team management accountable, while still supporting the club.

They now have 3 years of failure in getting into the post season. No matter how close it was, TFC Management knew very well that supporters and fans would measure 2009's success on whether we made the playoffs or not. I agree that it was a fine line, but the fact remains, they were on the wrong side of that line.

Its like a parent telling their kid "I expect you to pass your English exam so you can graduate"... when the kid fails by like 2%, with a 48% average, a fail is a fail. It doesn't matter that he missed out by 2%. Your not going to tell the kid that its somehow okay that he failed, cause he missed by "only" two percent.

After the Impact's 6-1 loss, Montreal supporters staged a protest against Dos Santo's decision to field a B-team. Would you constitute the UM a buncha whiners?

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TFC fans are great I must say, they are passionate and are behind their team 100%. Though I feel they need to make a stand they are being treated like dirt by Mo and Preki, management don't care about the fans that are the only reason they are still looked at as a viable club. TFC fans deserve better than a team that has never had a foundation and is looking like it will never have one. You fans that show up in spades to TFC games need to let it be known you are not happy with the no direction of this club.

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Under any other scenario, I would agree with you, like if its one bad loss out of a relatively strong season. But when things are consistently bad, blind faith isn't "supporting the team". Blind faith is NOT holding your team accountable. The best supporters in the world hold team management accountable, while still supporting the club.

A strawman argument has been built here. There is nothing in what I wrote that called for blind faith and suggested that management should never be held accountable. Last year was a major disappointment but disappointments happen in competitive sport. As a result of that disappointment there was a new direction where the head coach was concerned and a drastic revamp to the roster. That's accountability in action. A lot of people think Mo Johnston should have been gone as well but at this point with Preki clearly calling the shots where the makeup of the roster is concerned I seriously question what difference it would make. The substance of that change has arguably already been made. The emphasis that people place on Mo Johnston appears to be a form of irrational hysteria rather than a reasoned plan of action at this point. It's going to take time for Preki's new roster to gel as a team and start getting results consistently. The supporters can help right now by getting behind the team and by putting the concept of support back into the word supporter. Personally, I could handle missing the playoffs again this season if it meant that the foundation was being put in place for a winning team over the next five seasons. As long as we are not looking at an NYRB in 2009 type season and there are consistent signs of progress Preki should get a second season minimum to build his team and the supporters should back him every step of the way this year.

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A lot of people think Mo Johnston should have been gone as well but at this point with Preki clearly calling the shots where the makeup of the roster is concerned I seriously question what difference it would make.

So you don't think Mo's at fault for our current situation? While it was Preki's decision to drop players, Mo is responsible for finding and recruiting players that fits the type of culture Preki is trying to develop. So he has some role to play in the clubs current situation. Preki still has the benefit of the doubt, considering he's new in town, but Mo is being given a 2nd (if not 3rd) chance here.

Mo is also responsible for burning a lot of bridges with former players, especially in the way he deals with cutting players loose. The controversial departures of Gerba, Robinson, Brennen and Serioux occured after Preki's arrival, but Dichio's abrupt departure falls under Mo...

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So you don't think Mo's at fault for our current situation?
That's a non-sequitur. What I stated was that at this point in time getting rid of him wouldn't make much difference in terms of which players get signed, traded or waived. I very much doubt that Mo was primarily responsible for finding Saric, Hscanovics and Usanov given the relative lack of players from obscure Eastern European clubs at previous training camps, that he made the decision to invite recent ex-Chivas players like Conway and Gargan for a trial or that he identified Harden, Peterson and LaBrocca as trade targets. The only signing I think he probably played the key role in was Adrian Cann. Edited by BringBackTheBlizzard
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