Paul Beirne has been a consistent figure with Toronto FC since the club's inception but the club's Vice President of business operations has announced that Saturday's game agains the Montreal Impact will be his final with the club.
This Saturday's TFC match will be my last with the club. Thank you for 7 seasons of awesome moments! So proud to have been a part of it!— Paul Beirne (@Paulbeirne) October 24, 2013
His departure adds one more name to the growing list of those who have left in recent months. For some it will be seen as another step in a much needed house cleaning process that may finally allow Toronto FC to move forward in a new direction but for others he will be missed for the role that he played in making TFC that club that it is today both good and bad.
It would be foolish to associate Beirne with the team's results on the field during his seven years with the club as he had nothing to do with that side of things. He was not part of building the roster or selecting the coaching staff but was concerned with the business side which is any area where the club has done far better in.
He and his team had a big role in that atmosphere that BMO Field was famous for in the early years. They found ways to listen to create interest in the team, they filled up that once vaunted waiting list, and they listened to fans which all helped to capitalize on an interest that existed in the city of Toronto and turn it into the kind of atmosphere that teams around MLS were once jealous of.
Say what you will about all the price increases that happened in the early days of the club but they were just following good business practices and maximizing the interest that was there for the team. The price increases alone cannot be blamed for the lose of interest in the team as if the team had actually started to win games very few would have complained about the annual increase. When combined with the losing it did make many fans feel like they were being exploited but in fairness to TFC and the likes of Beirne they heard the message from their loyal customers at the annual town halls and took steps like a price freeze and eventually a price reduction. It was all good business practice and none of it would have offended fans had the team won.
With Beirne moving on from the club it will certainly leave a void in terms of accessible figures. He was always available to the average fan via twitter despite certainly having to put up with the odd bit of hate directed his way by disgruntled fans. While the average fan could never reach the folks in charge of the on field side of things at least they had easy access to Beirne who seemed willing to listen to what fans had to say over the years.
Now Tim Leiweke and MLSE will have the chance to reshape all elements of the club having already brought in Tim Bezbatchenko to replace Kevin Payne as General Manager. If the club does wind up turning things around the field hopefully they will continue to have someone on the business side who is willing to listen to fans on the business side of things as that relationship has never been more important than it is now.
Twitter was full of fond farewells and best wishes to Beirne on Thursday including some from a number of familiar faces.
I have a feeling that "be careful what you wish for" is a phrase @Paulbeirne's critics are gong to understand soon enough.— Duane Rollins (@24thminute) October 24, 2013
Best of luck to @Paulbeirne as he leaves @torontofc. Interviewed me some seven years ago at ACC while Mariah Carey was doing sound check.— Asif Hossain (@asifintoronto) October 24, 2013
#TFC Vice President of Business Operations @Paulbeirne announces Saturday's match will be his last. Good luck to one of the good guys.— Kurtis Larson (@KurtLarSUN) October 24, 2013
"@Paulbeirne: This Saturday's TFC match will B my last with club. Paul you were very instrumental in creating incredible fans. Thank you— Richard Peddie (@RichardAPeddie) October 24, 2013
Sold out what he was told wouldn't sell out, worked with insane fans to create a culture that MLS has grown from. Thanks @Paulbeirne— Sean Keay (@SeanKeay) October 24, 2013
. @Paulbeirne sorry to hear about this. Always felt you were the one bright spot in the organization. Best of luck in your future.— peter wilt (@PeterWilt1) October 24, 2013
@Paulbeirne thank you for never ducking and hiding when things went sour (which was/is often). I have nothing but respect for you for that— Will Graham (@BigWullieStyle) October 24, 2013
You probably get the point by now that there were plenty of kind words out there even if some fans did still have a few harsh words to offer with the odd "good riddance" appearing. As for us at Waking the Red we wish Mr. Beirne nothing but the best in his future endeavours and are confident he will pop up in a new role soon.