There’s another shakeup brewing at Toronto FC, and this one is at the very top.
Sportsnet.ca has learned from multiple sources that TFC has hired Kevin Payne as its new club president.
TFC will make a formal announcement on Wednesday afternoon at a press conference at BMO Field.
Payne spent the previous 17 seasons with DC United where he was key figure in building the franchise into one of the most successful teams in league history. During his time as president and chief executive officer, D.C. United won four MLS Cup titles, four MLS Supporters Shields and two U.S. Open Cups.
“They say the only constant in life is change,” Payne said in a statement. “For me, D.C. United has been like my child. We brought the team into the D.C. and national sports world 17 years ago and every day since – good and bad – has been a labor of love.
The 59-year-old executive helped put together the original investment group for D.C. United, and was the team’s first general manager. He also hired Bruce Arena, a successful coach at the University of Virginia, giving him his first head coaching job in MLS.
“Very few people in American soccer have put their stamp on a club as Kevin has with D.C. United,” D.C. United coach Ben Olsen said in a statement. “His loyalty to the team and me is something for which I’ll always be indebted.”
Payne has some ties to the current TFC front office.
Earl Cochrane, the team’s Director of Team and Player Operations, worked for two years as D.C. United’s Director of Communications, while TFC Academy director Thomas Rongen once served as head coach at D.C. United, winning the 1999 MLS Cup.
The shakeup at the highest levels of the club should not come as a surprise.
Toronto is coming off its worst ever MLS campaign, finishing dead last with a 5-21-8 record and missed the playoffs for the sixth straight year. They also set a new league record by losing their first nine games of the campaign.
During a conference call earlier this week, MLS commissioner Don Garber said TFC was planning some “bold moves.” Also, Tom Anselmi, president and COO of TFC owner Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, told reporters last month that a full review of the club and its structure was planned in the off-season, and one of the things on the table was hiring a club president.