Friday, January 16, 2015

Throwing Money at a Problem

Godfrey, Toronto
Neat interview over at the Sports Business Journal last week with a large player in the Canadian (Toronto) sports world, Paul Godfrey.
“You can tell when one of your people, especially general managers in sports, start to get desperate. They start throwing money at players you wouldn't normally touch. They get a sense, ‘We haven’t won enough. I could be gone.’ You can almost see their moves coming. They start asking for more money to throw at players that in the first year of their tenure they didn't want — an aging star. When they are desperate, they want to gamble on that aging superstar having a little left in the tank. It’s their form of throwing a Hail Mary. It’s bad, but you see it all the time.”
It's not often you get an executive talking about things like this, publicly. Especially one that's right there in the middle of it in the bizarre world of Toronto sports. The quote above could relate directly to Toronto FC.

Godfrey is on the outside of the Bell / Rogers / MLSE deal that has reshaped Canada's media world. Elsewhere in the article he would talk about how they messed up the NFL in Toronto (really... how could you mess up the NFL?).

The piece doesn't directly mention Toronto FC but Godfrey does talk about Tim Leiweke's potential replacement.
“You really have to know the culture of Canada and you have to know the makeup of the personalities of the CEOs of both companies. It’s very difficult to parachute somebody in. To drop them on center ice, and say, ‘OK, keep them apart. OK, now, get them to agree.’
It's odd as hell that Toronto has snapped up two of the best US players in the world today, but here we are. We might not ever know exactly how that has happened but Godfrey's comments do shed some light on the sports situation.

Toronto is drenched with sports money. You can trace most of it to hockey but really it's just the fact that the big media guys have decided that working together on the TV side of things gets them the big bucks.

Major League Soccer's roll in all of this is mostly that of semi-passive participant. Toronto FC will sell a decent amount of tickets regardless but struggle on the road. Adding Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley solve the traveling road show problem (for the league, anyway).

After sitting down with this for a bit, I've decided that Toronto is one strange sports town. It'd be okay if they stuck to hockey, but the don't. Godfrey seems like a good guy but the insight he provides, paints a troubling picture of too much money and not enough talent. One that MLS shouldn't be so willing to trust.

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