For the few Toronto FC fans out there that are dreaming of a shirt without any sponsor on the front of it this coming season it seems like that dream is about to be shattered. While the club has not yet finalized a deal for a new shirt sponsor they are moving closer to finally getting a deal done.
Back in September it was first reported that BMO would not be returning as the shirt sponsor for Toronto FC for the 2015 season. The deal between Toronto FC and the financial institution ran out on December 31st and the reports from the fall indicated that they would not be renewing that deal.
BMO is the only company to grace the front of Toronto FC's shirts through out the club's history having initially signed a five year deal which they renewed for another 3 years back in 2012. That deal is now over though and BMO is looking to spend that money on their other soccer initiatives including their work at a grassroots level. They have clearly been a big supporter of soccer in Canada over the years and that is not going to change even if they are no longer front and centre on TFC's kits.
Toronto FC have been working to replace BMO since the fall and while things have not gone as smoothly as they might have hoped with no one stepping up quickly to fill the void they are now closing in on finding a new shirt sponsor. The club has been working with a number of their existing partners to try and find someone willing to step in to a bigger role and they may just have find one.
According to multiple sources the leading candidate to replace BMO on the front of the shirt is Pizza Pizza. The pizza company is already a partner of Toronto FC and their logo can be seen all over BMO Field on any given day so in that sense they make good sense a new shirt sponsor.
Pizza Pizza was founded in Toronto and still has its headquarters located in Etobicoke. With over 500 locations now across Canada they should have the financial resources required to step up their sponsorship of TFC to the level that MLS requires of shirt sponsors.
There would be little risk to Toronto FC's image or that of their owners over at MLSE if they did wind up going with a partner like Pizza Pizza. For many teams the reputation of the sponsor on the front of the shirt is just as important as the dollars and cents of the deal and with a locally founded company like Pizza Pizza there should be no real risk of the club connecting themselves to a company that would drag them through the mud.
So just how much might it cost Pizza Pizza to take up the space on the front of the shirt? Well, the old deal with BMO was reported to be in the $4 million range and one would expect MLSE would be looking for a similar figure for any new deal. That figure would keep TFC among the league leaders in terms of revenue from their shirt sponsor with the likes of the LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders.
Pizza Pizza are not the only company in the running to be on the front of the shirt next season. They could very well wind up being the choice in the end but it will not be for a lack of other options. One other company that could be in the mix is actually BMO who could return to the front of the shirt for 2015 with a new deal. They could make a strong push to return to the shirt having seen what TFC have done this offseason. The improved roster and the expanded stadium make the club a much more enticing property than it was back in September when they decided not to renew their previous deal.
While nothing appears to be finalized at this point in time it is becoming clear that it should not be long before TFC is in position to announce their shirt sponsor for next year. They should have something in place just in time for the new kit to go on sale as part of jersey week. When that announcement does happen do not be surprised if it is Pizza Pizza or even a return of BMO.