Toronto FC’s solid start couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve talked to more than a few FC supporters recently. While all of them continue their unbridled support for the team, they desperately want a winner. Will continued losing affect the club’s fan base in the future? With 14,000 people on the waiting list for season tickets it seems unlikely, but it could happen.
Although FC is a smash hit at the gate, it hasn’t been so off the field. The hiring of Chris Cummins marks their third coach in two plus years of existence. That’s not the way to build consistency on the field.
The most successful teams are the most stable organizations. The Pittsburgh Steelers have hired only three coaches in their history. Sir Alex Ferguson has coached Manchester United since 1986. The Detroit Red Wings are the model of consistency on and off the ice year in and year out. We can’t say the same for FC. Even talented teams suffer when they’re faced with a revolving door of coaches.
In these economic times, there are no guarantees. The NFL discovered this when they priced tickets at $550 for the Bills/Steelers exhibition game at Rogers Center. One third the stadium was empty, one third had their tickets given to them, and the other third were paying customers. I nearly started a riot when I told two business men (who paid $1,100 for two tickets) that I and six of my closest friends had our tickets compt. Even in soccer crazed Europe, there are empty stadiums. But I digress.
Hopefully Cummins stays around long enough to build something. There’s no doubt that Toronto FC has some of the best fans in North America. But when the bloom is off the rose and TFC is no longer a novelty, the fans may not be there in such force if they are still a losing club.
P.S. To the thousands of TFC fans I haven’t talked to: What do you think?