Toronto FC went looking for an expert on the Major League Soccer salary cap to serve as their next general manager, so they went right to the source to find their man.
The club announced Friday that Tim Bezbatchenko, a 31-year-old attorney who has spent the past three years negotiating and drafting player contracts as the senior director of player relations and competition with MLS, is now the new man on the job in Toronto, replacing former GM Kevin Payne, who was let go earlier this month.
“This is a unique move and it is one that perfectly addresses what Toronto FC needs,” said Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment president and CEO Tim Leiweke, who coined the term "capologist" when describing what his new GM needed to be after Payne's departure.
“Tim brings an analytical mind to the job along with the best understanding that I’ve seen of the salary cap and how to manage it. He knows how to build a team that will win long-term and he believes, like we do, that his vision will have an immediate and positive impact on this team. We are excited about adding Tim’s knowledge, experience and relationships within MLS to Toronto FC and we now look forward to focusing together on the most important job: putting a winning team on the pitch for Toronto FC supporters.”
Bezbatchenko also specialized in finalizing loan and transfer agreements for the import and export of players to and from MLS, and oversaw all MLS rosters, the MLS player pool, and team salary budgets. He was also responsible for youth and player development initiatives for the league, including the home-grown player signing process.
Bezbatchenko also helped the Player Department manage the relationship between the Players Union and interpretation of the league’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA), and served as a liaison with the US Soccer Federation and the Canadian Soccer Association.
Earlier this year, MLS announced a partnership with the French Football Federation (FFF) to create an educational course for MLS Academy directors that was managed by Bezbatchenko.
“In working at the league office over the past few years, Toronto struck me as a great city with terrific supporters that has always had tremendous potential,” Bezbatchenko said. “I feel that my knowledge of the ins and outs of the league’s contracts and rules allows me to bring a unique and long-term perspective on rosters and budget. I look forward to working with Tim and Ryan Nelsen to realize that potential.”
Prior to joining MLS, Bezbatchenko served as an attorney for Shearman & Sterling LLP, in New York.
“We are very excited for Tim and this new opportunity with Toronto FC,” said Todd Durbin, MLS executive vice president of competition and player relations. “He has extensive knowledge of our League and the international player market. This, combined with his tireless work ethic and innovative thinking, will make him a tremendous asset to the Club.”
Bezbatchenko played two professional seasons as a midfielder for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, and won the USL PRO League Atlantic Division Championship in 2004.