TORONTO - The whispers surrounding Kevin Payne’s job security began wafting beyond BMO Field’s walls late last month.
The speculation picked up steam last Thursday night when the Toronto Sun learned of a semi-secret meeting MLSE CEO Tim Leiweke hosted for a small group of the club’s most ardent supporters.
It was there that Leiweke, on the job for a little over a month, confirmed head coach Ryan Nelsen — who was standing next to him — would return for another season despite the Reds pitching one of the worst records in the league this season.
As for Payne, well, he wasn’t in attendance, leading most to speculate that the club’s latest president and general manager was on the way out, especially after Leiweke wouldn’t say whether the long-time MLS GM would return for another season.
Less than a week later, and after just eight months on the job, the Sun confirmed Wednesday night that Toronto FC is set to announce Payne’s departure as early as Thursday. Leiweke, it’s expected, will detail the reasons behind the decision in the coming days.
At the top of the list, though, could be the discontent that was beginning to form throughout the Reds’ dressing room, stemming from a recent interview Payne conducted with select media.
“I’m not sure there will be anyone who started at the beginning of the season who will end up on the field (by season’s end),” Payne said prior to a match last month.