Good Friday morning Caps fans, hope is was a good week in your neck of the woods.
In terms of on the pitch news, the positivity lasted, oh, about a week. It turns out Orlando is a COVID-19 hellhole and players are testing positive left and right before they even leave for Florida, putting into doubt the wisdom of the vaunted MLS Is Back Cup.
But in Whitecaps-land, the distress obviously stems from one storyline and one storyline only—the dismissal of CEO Mark Pannes just months into a four year contract. We may never know the exact details of his departure but reading between the lines it seems pretty obvious that it comes down to some sort of disagreement between Pannes and the Caps’ ownership group.
I have no special insight into why this went down. I have no sources, no ITKs, no more information on the matter than you all do.
But at this point even if the decision was related to finances or COVID-19 or a magical unicorn fairy appearing to Greg Kerfoot in a dream, the ownership has long since passed the point in which they have earned any semblance of benefit of the doubt.
Caleb Wilkins, per usual, summed up pretty well why this is an absolutely pants on head, wild move based on the logic Jeff Mallett expressed at the press conference earlier this week and I don’t think there is any reason to rehash his points here.
But I’ll add a couple of my own. The reason why this is so maddening to so many people, to the point of en masse season ticket cancellations and Twitter hashtags catching fire, is because this was supposed to be the year the club moved beyond dumb scandals. This was the year, in part due to the arrival of Pannes, that the organization became legitimate, taking a step towards entering the realm of MLS 5.0.
Perhaps we were all naive, like Charlie Brown set to kick the football, only for Lucy (or Kerfoot/Mallett) to pull it away as the last moment. After all we all knew in our hearts what the real impediment to the organization behaving like its peers.
It is frustrating to look at other MLS franchises and see owners with a real sense of pride and, well, ownership over the team and the community it creates. Arthur Blank, for instance, paid all of the team’s hourly employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. When the Atlanta Falcons made it to the Super Bowl in 2017, he paid the way of team employees to the game.
Now, I don’t want to go gaga over rich people doing the right thing. But it isn’t just that Blank did what every owner should do. It’s the way he speaks about the club, the fans, the culture of the organization. Not all MLS owners are like that but some are and the difference between those clubs and the ones like Vancouver is so, so noticeable.
Everything—the season ticket cancellations, the Twitter movement, the protests in the stadium—it all comes down to the simple fact that supporters do not feel included or valued in the current system. The inherent problem in MLS (as opposed to, say, Germany) is there is no incentive for owners to do this. The moral imperative is all there is and if you have an ownership group without that, well, you’re kind of stuck.
There is confusion for the fans who remain as well, as success on the pitch is likely to only reward the behavior of ownership and entrench their attitude. But MDS and the squad have no blame whatsoever in all this—they’re just a casualty of a problem which predates their arrival to the club, caught up in a wave where they have no control. It would be great if they took a stand against the objectively unbecoming behavior of those in charge (I mean firing someone on bereavement? Come the f- - - on) but it a) is an unfair position for them to be in and b) probably not going to happen.
That leaves the fans Will the protests underway currently bring that accountability? Historically they’ve had some effect, although often that is just empty platitudes from the top brass. I guess the only thing we can do is keep Tweeting, keep making voices hears.
There really is only one thing that needs to be said: #selltheCaps
Shameless Self Promotion
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