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Learning a few things about Toronto FC, MLS contracts and big-deal architect Tim Leiweke

Jan 25, 2014, 10:32 PM EDT


The Toronto Star’s opus on the Canadian club’s pursuit and acquisition of England international Jermain Defoe is chalk full of great, juicy details.

Word of warning: it is a leeeengthy piece. But if you’ve got a few minutes, and if you’re into the nitty-gritty of MLS, it’s worth the read.

The connecting thread of the piece is Tim Leiweke’s aggressive makeover and efforts to get this wandering club back on the trail.

But anyone who knows much about MLS understands what Leiweke can do; he was the architect behind the single most significant MLS personnel move in league history, the David Beckham snatch. So the real juice in the Star’s piece is found in all the smaller bits.

Not all of the great details we learn are necessarily about Toronto. For instance:

  • The LA Galaxy’s pursuit of Frank Lampard was never a huge secret. But we know a little more now, as Leiweke (or someone with the club or with MLS) apparently revealed the that the Chelsea veteran’s MLS rights belong to the LA Galaxy. (It would apparently be on a “discovery,” which is really just a technical point – but it’s still kind of amusing the think of the longtime England international as being “discovered” by anyone.)
  • Encouraging everyone around the club to “think big,” Leiweke approached Toronto manager Ryan Nelsen for high caliber internationals to pursue. Nelsen handed over his wish list of 100, which was soon filtered down to 10.
  • If it wasn’t going to be Defoe to lead the TFC strike force, it was going to be Italian international Alberto Gilardino, who has 57 caps for his highly successful country.
  • Signing Defoe required nine separate contracts. Nine! Who knew?

There’s more in the article. That’s really just a teaser. It is great reporting.

  1. hildezero - Jan 25, 2014 at 11:42 PM

    Nine contracts?! Nine contracts for what?

    • Sgc - Jan 26, 2014 at 3:10 PM

      The article has a bit more detail:
      “Bringing Defoe to Toronto required nine separate contracts — terms with the league, terms with the team, a marketing deal, etc. One is a subsidy from Major League Soccer for Defoe’s salary in anticipation of a rise in shared revenues around the league because of ticket sales. They also had to find a place for Defoe and his entire family to live.”

    • nmberg - Jan 26, 2014 at 11:26 PM

      I’d guess that it includes a transfer agreement, an employment contract, work visa, image rights agreement, players union/ CBA, club rules, and a confidentiality agreement.

  2. talgrath - Jan 26, 2014 at 12:10 AM

    Anytime people wonder why these moves and contracts aren’t secrets well, here’s why; what isn’t mentioned is that for all of these moves to happen Leiweke had to involve a lot of people. No multi-million dollar contract can stay secret for long, but people like Leiweke don’t recognize the trail of clues they leave behind.

    • geojock - Jan 27, 2014 at 9:15 AM

      I do agree that multimillion dollar contracts involve too many moving parts to keep secret, but I am not sure about “people like Leiweke don’t recognize the trail of clues they leave behind” What would ever indicate that Leiweke in clueless in the matter?

  3. tylerbetts - Jan 26, 2014 at 12:45 AM

    I’m curious about the MLS club that was willing to pay for Bradley, but he was unwilling to play for.

    • crossmlk - Jan 26, 2014 at 10:32 PM

      Has to be SKC. PV has discussed that they were interested and willing to pony up the money.

  4. drewvt6 - Jan 26, 2014 at 3:56 AM

    Can we get Lieweke to be the head of the next US attempt to host the WC? Guy is a baller.

  5. player169 - Jan 27, 2014 at 8:23 AM

    Doubt it was SKC. Bradley has played in Sporting Park multiple times and I doubt he would go to bottom feeders over the current Champs if they were going to pay. I would imagine it was Dallas or Philly. Both are looking for DPs and Philly was even reported to want to overpay for Edu. Vermes might have the green light to go get another DP, but not $50 million…

  6. geojock - Jan 27, 2014 at 9:24 AM

    I like Lieweke’s moves, but it seems like a lot of big eggs in one basket at one time. Seems to me a very ‘all in’ move. Maybe TFC has the cash to keep bringing in these players, but what happens in 2-4 years, do they open the pocket book again? I might rather have several multimillion dollar DPs over the course of many years rather than all at once. All an all though MLS’ quality has grown exponentially over the last few years.

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