Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) announced on Tuesday that Tom Anselmi has been appointed President and Chief Operating Officer of the company. The move means that Anselmi will oversee all MLSE operations, including those of its Major League Soccer team, Toronto FC.
Anselmi spoke with TSN Radio's James Cybulski Tuesday, and had some interesting comments to make about a conversation Anselmi had recently with MLS commissioner Don Garber:
"We're the only (expansion) team that started from scratch. Most of these (expansion) franchises had infrastructure in place and were playing in a league somewhere, and we were behind the eight ball. It was probably something (having an infrastructure) that we didn't take seriously enough. So we're playing catch up now, and we've got to get it right on the field, there's no doubt about it."
Getting it right "on the field" is impossible unless you first get it right "off the field."
There will be many who point to Anselmi's decision to outsource the hiring of TFC's current technical team to U.S.-based consultant Jurgen Klinsmann and his company, Soccer Solutions, as evidence that Anselmi is incapable of getting it right. And they would be correct – to an extent.
If you're not confident that you have the answers yourself, you hire people that you think do. One doesn't reach the heights of corporate leadership that Anselmi has by repeating mistakes, and I would be shocked if he went back to the Klinsmann well for another bucket of advice. That doesn't, however, mean that Tom Anselmi shouldn't be seeking outside council.
My suggestion, for what it's worth, is to look a little closer to home.
The club needs to hire a new President, someone who will effectively take over the position that Anselmi is vacating. This person does not need to be Canadian, but must – absolutely must – have extensive experience in the world of football.
So how does Anselmi go about finding this person?
Start by putting together a Canadian advisory group – not just one person – who has experience working within the world of football. Use the cumulative knowledge of this group to oversee the recruitment and hiring of a top-class President.
Our country is littered with bright football minds that have represented Canada as players, coaches and administrators. Does Toronto FC want a team with a Canadian identity that can be successful? Then tap into the vast resources we have in our country to help find the person that can help deliver that identity.
Many of the individuals who should be considered for this advisory group were once season ticket holders at Toronto FC. They would come to BMO Field to support the club - despite its continued failures on the field - in the hope that over time, things would improve.
They would argue about players, coaches and tactics as only passionate football people can do. It was a travesty that the club did not employ some of them, as their knowledge is only gained the hard way – through experience.
Sadly, many of them no longer go to games. They gave up their season tickets out of frustration. Not at the results on the field, but at the poor decisions made over and over again by those in charge of the club.
If this isn't a major concern for Toronto FC, then it should be.
The club is not going to win these people back unless it gets its next move right. Fix the problems off the field, and success on the field will follow.