Friday, December 9, 2011

Barber Leaves - Front Office Woes

Whitecaps FC CEO Paul Barber resigned today with current COO Rachel Lewis and President Bob Lenarduzzi taking extra duties.

Barber is leaving for another opportunity, but left it vague as to where he may end up. Most speculate it's back in the English Premier League. Some have even said the London Olympics, but hiring someone of his stature this late in the game seems confusing. So we'll stick with soccer at the highest level in England.

In giving Lenarduzzi and Lewis more responsibility, the Whitecaps are seemingly taking a step backwards, back to the USL and NASL days with the same top level execs that had a division 2 team running.

For many, Bob Lenarduzzi is seen as a great spokesman for the club and does that role extremely well, but many of the fans and business people don't see him as a businessman, instead he trades on his name ad legacy. A person that attended one of his speeches at a BMO event, gave me this review, "what was the point? He told stories that had no interest to the business people there."

In Rachel Lewis, the clubs chief operating officer, they have someone who is regarded as Business in Vancouver's 40 under 40 list in 2009. Some would even suggest she has quietly been a key figure for the Caps behind the scenes. But she's quiet, and perhaps that's the problem.

The other problem lies in talking to people associated with the club during the division 2 years at Swangard Stadium and the city of Burnaby. The reviews of Rachel Lewis with those people are less that desirable.

The Whitecaps have gone from a man at the top of his professional with major experience in the soccer world and could captivate a group with his stories and his business sense. Now you have a quiet COO with some less that desirable reviews and a President with an apparent lack of business aptitude. One interested observer suggested it's 'quite the downgrade'.

It's now three coaches in one year and a CEO gone. It's going to be an interesting time in the Whitecaps front office on the business side of things. Barber has two months to make sure there's a plan in place and Lewis and Lenarduzzi can step their games up to a major league level.

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