Leiweke to step down down from MLSE posts

TimLeiweke1 (Getty)

By FRANCO PANIZO

The man responsible for the reinvigoration of Toronto FC will not be tasked with doing so for much longer.

It was announced on Thursday that renowned executive Tim Leiweke is stepping down from his posts as CEO and president of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. The move will be effective as of June 30, 2015, or until a new successor is found.

The 57-year-old Leiweke took those positions at MLSE, which owns Toronto FC, in April 2013. He helped the club make a big splash this past winter, orchestrating moves to sign Michael Bradley and Jermain Defoe to Designated Player deals while also making TFC one of the more talked about clubs in MLS.

“It’s an honor to lead MLSE, a world-class organization in a city and a country so passionate about sports. But with new opportunities on the horizon, it’s time for me to begin the transition from sports and entertainment executive to entrepreneur,” said Leiweke in a statement. “Right now, my total focus is here at MLSE and I look forward to working with the Board and MLSE team to continue strengthening our franchises while ensuring a smooth transition to a new leader.”

Reports surfaced earlier in the week that Leiweke, who is also known for turning the LA Galaxy into an MLS powerhouse, was set to leave MLSE. Leiweke later refuted those reports, saying he was committed to the season at hand.

He might not be leaving this season, but Leiweke will not be a member of MLSE for much longer.

“Under Tim’s leadership, MLSE has made a number of key moves to strengthen our organization on the path to championship success,” said MLSE chairman Larry Tanenbaum. “We look forward to working closely with Tim to build on this foundation and further accelerate our momentum as we seek a new leader for MLSE.”
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What do you make of this development? How big of a loss will this be for Toronto FC?

Share your thoughts below.

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44 Responses to Leiweke to step down down from MLSE posts

  1. lando says:

    what’s wrong with MLSE? Or maybe I’m just misreading this information. He had a 5 year contract, right?

    • fifawitz1313 says:

      Reading comprehension. He is going to be an entrepreneur (aka. Start his own company).

      • Clyde Frog says:

        “Reading comprehension?” Really?

        There have been rumors that he has not gotten along well with MLSE leadership. True or not, I don’t know. But it’s something to consider in this case.

      • lando says:

        whew! thanks bro for pointing out that he’s going to be an entrepreneur and even defining the word for me. here i was attempting to find out the bigger picture by reading between the lines or getting info from some folks who know more.

        i bet PR folks who hold press conferences where they wag the dog love people like you.

      • tw says:

        The LA Clippers are calling. I’m chuckling at all of the Chivas and MLS expansion theories below. This guys is way too ambitious for those steps down.

    • g-dub says:

      Agreed. There has to be something toxic at TFC/MLSE. It’s a revolving door. All the ingredients for success – Cash, stadium, great fans – and they have no consistency except for sh-ting the bed.

  2. MLSsnob says:

    Wow, why?

    • fifawitz1313 says:

      Reading comprehension. He is going to be an entrepreneur (aka. Start his own company).

      • Clyde Frog says:

        And there couldn’t possibly be more to the story, right? That would just be UNPOSSIBLE.

        • fifawitz1313 says:

          Is unpossible more or less likely to have occurred than impossible? Sorry, I got you riled up. Many people on this site comment before actually reading the article. They just comment based on the headline. Regardless, he says he wants to go run his own company. Does it matter if he is leaving under great or less than great terms with the organization? We wants to be the boss, not work for someone else. I think most of us can relate.

          • lando says:

            you’re kind of a dipsh!t. (ie asshat that no one really cares to hear from)

          • MLSsnob says:

            I saw the stated reason, douc*e I scored in the 99th percentile in “reading comprehension”. Go to the ESPN boards if all you have to contribute to the discussion are insults.

  3. Dace says:

    Gotta be something going on behind the scenes…either he’s being tapped for a bigger job or he screwed the pooch in some way.

    • fifawitz1313 says:

      Reading comprehension. He is going to be an entrepreneur (aka. Start his own company).

      • Clyde Frog says:

        You are smarter than everyone else. Ah, now I get it. It’s a good thing you posted that 3 times because 2 times just wasn’t enough for us to understand.

      • whoop-whoop says:

        Pretty sure they read and understood the article. Course, I am sure you are aware, many many times… there is the press release- a nuanced message fabricated for public consumption that paints an organization and it’s members in the most favorable light possible. And then… there is the truth. I’m going to jump out on a limb and presume these guys are speculating about the truth behind the press release. Perhaps looking at the inevitable posts to follow in this way will save you a lot of repetitive responses about reading comprehension? Or not.

      • Diego's Maradoughnuts says:

        Seriously dude, you look like a chump. “Being an entrepreneur” is a very vague reason, on a par with “organizational differences”… I would ask follow-up questions too.

        For example, it’s possible to me that a certain somebody with whom he has a very close relationshp has asked him to join the ownership team of his struggling startup MLS franchise… ever think of that possibility?

  4. Nico. C says:

    Rebranding Chivas TBD?

    • Todd Marsch says:

      I like that thought. It would have to be pretty tempting for him to go back to LA and re-make Chivas into a real rival for the Galaxy, if they have a big-money owner coming in.

  5. joemybro says:

    This quote from Leiweke “But with new opportunities on the horizon, it’s time for me to begin the transition from sports and entertainment executive to entrepreneur,”
    makes me bet that someone somewhere (new MLS franchise?) offered him a chance to be an equity partner in something rather than an employee (albeit a highly placed and presumably highly paid one)

    • "The TX 2 Stepper" says:

      THIS

      God knows I hope this brings him to the warm climate as minority partner and EXECUTIVE in the city we know and love as “HOTlanta” Georgia

    • Ali Dia says:

      My reading too. It would certianly seem that one of the new MLS franchisees (Becks in my “best guess” but really all of them must have thought of it) said to themsleves “Let’s get the guy who has proven he knows how to get things done in this league” and at this phase in Leiweke’s career an equity interest would almost certianly be what he is looking for.

  6. Brew says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if he joined the Miami franchise. He and Beckham obviously have a good relationship and the Miami franchise needs a guy that gets things done (like a stadium deal). It has the face of the franchise in Beckham but it needs someone that knows MLS and knows how to work with local governments. In exchange he’ll get part ownership.

    • Todd Marsch says:

      I like that thought too. Especially if Miami isn’t starting until at least 2017, leaving TFC in June 2015 would still give him plenty of time to get there and put together their roster.

  7. Phil B says:

    Thus signals the beginning of the end of the TFC experiment. I wouldn’t be surprised if they spiraled back into mismanagement, plus a mass exodus of their best players, and a return to the Eastern Conference cellar after Leiweke leaves.

    • MLSfan says:

      I haven’t laughed that hard since I was a little girl… yes, all the players will cancel their contracts or request to be traded because their boss’ (coach) boss’ (GM) boss is leaving.

      • Dave says:

        Excellence starts at the top.

        If you don’t like that bromide, try this one: the fish rots from the head down.

  8. Nick in LA says:

    He’s going to be the next Commissioner of MLS. The new Don, as it were.

  9. Jess says:

    I can see a joint venture with Becks on the horizon. LA rebrand with a downtown stadium maybe?

    • Diego's Maradoughnuts says:

      I’m agreed this feels very likely…. even if he’s just been brought in to put life back into the Miami site, I smell Becks here. Quite intoxicating actually.

  10. bryan says:

    dang, when the rumors came out a few days ago, i was happy to hear him say they were not true. should have known it was true and he was lying about the rumors being false.

  11. Joseph D'Hippolito says:

    As someone who has seen Tim Leiweke’s handiwork first-hand, I can only say that his arrogance probably got the better of him and he likely alienated some big people in MLSE. That’s how he got fired from AEG, despite AEG’s public assertion that Leiweke left “by mutual consent.” Read this from Forbes:

    link to forbes.com

    Leiweke has the temperment to be his own boss. But I certainly wouldn’t want to work for him. He’s the kind of man who loves if you if you can do something for him, and doesn’t give a damn about you if you can’t.

    • Darwin says:

      How professional of you…

      • Joseph D'Hippolito says:

        Darwin, I never worked for the man but I saw how people who did work for him treat others, especially those in the media. The employees’ behavior always reflects the direction and character of management. Besides, if you think that offering a candid opinion is unprofessional, then you really have a lot to learn about life.

        • Ali Dia says:

          Joseph,
          Thank you for the insight. Interested to hear more of your context with him, if you have more to share. What you have shared (as well as what is in the Forbes piece, which I was familiar with) seems consistent with my perception of the guy– i.e. an incredibly effective deal-guy and salesman, but heavily ego-driven and definitely “not for everyone”

  12. MLSE is a beast of a company to deal with. Canada’s largest phone company (Bell) and largest cable company (Rogers) who are in direct competition with one another are equal partners in MLSE with a local businessman owning a smaller stake. Rogers & Bell own competing cable sports empires and compete with each other on just about every other way imaginable. I would say that working for them would be an absolute beast of a job for anyone. What I can say though is in his short time here in Toronto he went a long way towards addressing the rot that was destroying TFC and has left the club on a much more solid footing then when he arrived. Nice fellow in the times I met him. Good luck to him.

  13. Eric B says:

    It’s funny that everyone here thinks if Lieweke is leaving for another gig that it’s an MLS side. It seems just as likely he’d go back to LA to run the Clippers or an NFL-to-LA effort.

  14. Ismitje says:

    Not good news for we RSL fans, as Garth Lagerway’s contract is up and he is on record as looking to become a club president. He’d be an amazing one, and worth MLSE considering seriously.

  15. TheBiggestTrollEva says:

    Like rats fleeing a sinking ship. MLS is going down in the eyes of Leiweke.