It is Thanksgiving, the Jays play a big game four, and of course Toronto FC decided it would be a good day to drop some big news.
After several months of searching MLSE have finally found the man that they want to lead their soccer team moving forward. On Monday, the club announced that Bill Manning would over as the President of Toronto FC taking over the roll effective October 16th.
"In its first nine years, Toronto FC has established itself as one of the most important franchises in Major League Soccer and I am greatly honoured for the opportunity to lead this club," said Manning. "TFC has made important strides this season, as the club pushes for its first-ever playoff berth in a premier, newly-renovated stadium, in front of some of the very best supporters in the league. I look forward to working with Tim Bezbatchenko, Greg Vanney and the TFC staff at this exciting time and I am grateful to Mr. Tanenbaum and the MLSE ownership for this opportunity to come to a world-class city, and club, to help make its championship vision a reality."
As the new President, Manning will oversee all team and business operations associated with the club. It is a role that needed to be filled with the impending departure of Tim Leiweke as the next leader of MLSE is likely to be far less hands-on with the soccer team.
Manning comes to Toronto as a two time MLS Executive of the Year during his eight year run with Real Salt Lake. He was a big part in turning RSL in to one of the league's model franchises growing their season ticket base, increasing sponsorship, helping open Rio Tinto Stadium, and turning the team in to a consistent winner on the field.
His resume goes deeper than just his time at RSL though as Manning has also filled key roles with the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles and the NBA's Houston Rockets before joining MLS. His move to soccer was a return to his roots for Manning who enjoyed a successfully playing career that included winning a US Open Cup.
With Manning in place the leadership structure is now clear at TFC. Greg Vanney is the Head Coach, Tim Bezbatchenko is the General Manager, and Manning is the President. It is a similar setup to what worked well in Utah where Manning had Garth Lagerwey and Jason Kreis working under him to help turn RSL in to one of the league's most consistent franchises.
The big difference for Manning now will be that he will be working with a very different budget than what he was limited to with RSL. MLSE have proven they are willing to invest large sums of money in the team, the stadium, and the other facilities that Manning will be in charge of overseeing. He will face the challenge of trying to figure out how to get the most out of the newly expanded BMO Field while still keeping fans on board. His first real challenge may just come when the team announces the prices for season ticket renewals.
Hopefully, Manning brings stability along with him to Toronto. Given all the turnover that club has gone through in its short history it might just be the best thing that he could do for TFC. His MLS track record certainly suggests he can do it but he will face plenty of new challenges in Toronto.