• Before I get into the specifics of what I heard from TFC staffers Thomas Rongren, Paul Mariner, Paul Beirne and Earl Cochrane at the Town Hall meeting I attended Monday evening at BMO Field I wanted to pass along some observations about the atmosphere surrounding the sessions themselves that are perhaps even more telling than the specific information that the club passed along to us about the future plans for the club.

    I have attended at least six of these individual sessions since they were institutesd back in 2010. There were three specific differences between Monday evening and the others from 2010-11.

    1. There was a significant drop off in fan attendance in the session I attended Monday versus what I observed in previous years. There were seats in the room for roughly 100+ attendees yet there were probably at most 40-50 supporters who took the time to show up. In fact it felt that there were more TFC staffers in attendance than there were fans participating. On the way in there were at least ten young and all “smiling” staffers ushering us upstairs and they were still “smiling” as we collectively were leaving. The abundance of nice dental work and the staffer charm offensive on display was very pervasive… it definitely had the feel of some sort of gameplan to it in retrospect.

    2. After the roasting (well deserved I might add) that Tom Anselmi took in 2010 and 2011 from fans who had many tough questions for him to address in those get togethers, he was nowhere to be seen Monday evening. I asked one of my two questions (the first was about  CSL & matchfixing allegations that I will address later) directed to Paul Beirne about why Tommy Boy was not taking part in this process anymore. I did not receive an answer in any way to my simple question of “Where is Tom?”.

    3. The significant lack of passion from the supporters in the room was interesting as well. On Monday there were no rants from supporters… there were no voices being raised… there were no loud bouts of applause when a supporter voiced a popular opinion. Perhaps this point is the one the team should be worried about the most.

    TFC has decided to stream the last two town halls Wednesday evening on their website. I will post a link to the video on Thursday.

     There were some interesting nuggets in both sessions that I present here in no particular order:

    • I spoke with two senior TFC staffers responsible for season seat sales. They claim to be ahead of where their projections were for renewals to date and that they are ahead of where they were at this point in 2011. In their mind the price reductions are having a significant impact. I mentioned to them that I liked the Montreal away ticket and complimented them on being innovative. They asked me in response how popular a ticket did I think it would be.

    • TO follow on Paul Beirne stated that the club is preparing to put on up to twenty bus coaches to Montreal for the away game. They are negotiating to have the game as early in the season as possible and they plan on having the ticket as an “opt in” that people will print from their Account Manager. Plans are for the coaches to leave early from Toronto, show up to the game and return to Toronto the same day.

    • Paul Mariner is sticking to his widely published views that he really feels TFC are four players away from being competitive. When pressed his wish list (the same wish list for just about every team in the world I would believe) is a centre back, two box to box midfielders and another striker.

    • Earl Cochrane, parroting a statement almost verbatim from the 2011 Town Halls, claims that the club has more than enough cap/budget and allocation room to do what they want to do. Cochrane did state that there will be another round of player releases coming soon.

    • Director Thomas Rongren provided a TFC Academy update. He stated that TFC will be running five teams this season and are recruiting down to the under twelve level. Rongrem claims that he believes TFC has already recruited 90% of the best talent in Toronto. Plans are being put in place to eventually get down to the 9 and up age group.

    • Under questioning Rongren also stated that TFC has been concerned about the allegations of likely match fixing that have taken place in the Canadian Soccer League. He did state that the club has been working with both its players and the league to try and address the issue. There are no plans for TFC to leave the league. Rongren stated that he feels the level of play in the CSL is ideal for Senior Academy team player development. Riding the buses and getting stuck in with thirty year olds is good for the character of the players Rongren believes.

    • Finally on the Academy front Rongren stated that he does not foresee signing any Academy players to senior contracts this coming year. He stated that the previous regime was probably a bit over zealous in signing Academy players to senior contracts . Going forward unless an Academy kid can play first team football he wont be signed to a senior contract. Earl Cochrane added that recently cutting Nicholas Lindsay was just about the hardest football decision he ever had to make.

    • Joao Plata is still a Toronto FC player according to Earl Cochrane and that as it stands now the club expects to have him back next season.

    • Danny Koevermans is on his way towards recovery. According to Paul Mariner the severity of his ACL injury was significantly less that that recently suffered by Adrian Cann and Dicoy Williams. Koevermans is on track for an April or May 2013 return.

    • Budweiser and Stella Artois were the beers on tap. Looks like the rumours about Inbev becoming the new beer provider at BMO Field are confirmed.

    There were a few other generalities discussed but to finish my observations off I wanted to mention the relatively testy nature of the TFC Head Coach. Time after time Mariner would respond to questions in a blunt or sarcastic tone or would respond to a question with a question back to the supporter. I get that this type of forum might be somewhat unfamiliar to him and I also get that personally and professionally he has had his troubles this past year. But there are ways to respond to questions (even tough ones) without being rude to the questioner.

     Mariner could not get out of there fast enough. If you are one of the many who did not attend Monday (and there were a lot of you!) watch for yourselves Wednesday.



  1. David Bailey

    Agreed on Mariner. He was testy. He was very much out of his element. I’m sure he’s used to being in a controlling role and not being questioned by supporters. He did go out of his way to comment on the level of knowledge amongst the supporters but in light of the way he did reply to questions, I’m not sure he was doing anything but trying to say the “correct” thing.

    I brought it up with Paul but the conversation was shunted by others into a different area. I don’t think he ducked my comment but he was content with it getting lost in the mix.

    I didn’t expect to really learn anything new. For me, it was an opportunity to hang out with guys like you, have some free munchies and beverages, and talk soccer.


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