When Tim Leiweke speaks, people listen. And supporters of Toronto FC surely sat up and took notice on Tuesday when the president and CEO of their club's ownership group, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, acknowledged TFC's myriad struggles – but promised that TFC will make the MLS Cup playoffs next season.
Speaking to a group of Toronto-area business leaders, Leiweke spoke frankly about a range of topics pertaining to TFC, BMO Field and MLSE's other sports properties, the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs and the NBA's Toronto Raptors.
David Shoalts, a hockey columnist for The Globe and Mail, was present at the event and tweeted out some of the highlights from Leiweke's remarks, starting with perhaps the most head-turning of them all.
“Our soccer team,” said Leiweke, “is in absolute, complete disarray.”
Leiweke on Toronto FC: Our soccer team is in absolute, complete disarray.— David Shoalts (@dshoalts) October 29, 2013
Toronto FC later clarified that Leiweke's specific quote was: "Our soccer team was in absolute, complete disarray."
Yet Leiweke, who took up his current post in June and quickly dispensed with TFC president Kevin Payne despite the fact that the latter had been on the job for less than a year, soon pivoted to a more optimistic point of view.
“This is the team we'll turn around quickest,” he said of the Reds, who finished in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 6-17-11.
“We'll make the playoffs next year. Write it down.”
Leiweke on what's ahead for Toronto FC: This is the team we'll turn around quickest. We'll make the playoffs next year. Write it down.— David Shoalts (@dshoalts) October 29, 2013
Leiweke also confirmed that MLSE continues to consider the acquisition of the Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts, who might possibly become co-tenants with TFC in a significantly remodeled BMO Field.
That idea has received decidedly mixed reviews from leery Reds fans, but as of now MLSE are “only studying it.”