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Joey's blog

September 23, 2013

As we prepare for the season’s final stretch, I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your loyalty and support. Coming off great crowds at home against Houston, D.C. United and Columbus, the overwhelming fan support at Stade Saputo will undoubtedly continue to be an important factor in this crucial phase. 

Also, this year we gave all our supporters the opportunity to renew their seats at a much earlier date, and I’m pleased to report that there too, fan-response has been tremendous.

In less than two months, we already have a renewal rate of 70%, which is unheard of at this point in the season. To put things into perspective, last year we had an overall renewal rate of 75%. 

For 2014, as you know, we also introduced a new concept with the team, where purchasing a season ticket automatically makes you a member of the club. 

The idea of becoming a club member is obviously nothing new; many clubs around the world have members who have input in the team’s operations. Closer to us, the Seattle Sounders have taken fan involvement to unprecedented heights in North America with the creation of the Alliance.

But no matter the model or structure, the underlying principle is very simple: we want to give you an active voice within the club.

So with this in mind, in the upcoming weeks, we will be consulting our membership on very concrete issues regarding the club, including kick-off times, fan experience and player of the year. I encourage you to take the time to answer these questions and to let us know what you think.

We are also in the process of creating a Membership Committee that will meet regularly with some of our team representatives to discuss various club issues in greater depth. Once again, the response has been great: We were looking for 11 starting members, and so far we have received 161 applications. A selection process is currently underway and we will keep you posted on the final composition of the committee. 

Lastly, while we obviously may not be able to implement every recommendation, we intend to fully explain our decisions to our membership. In the end, we may have different views and ideas, but we all have one thing in common: we are all passionate about this club.

I believe that harnessing this passion in a positive and constructive exchange can just make this club stronger.

I’ll see you at the game.

Joey


 

March 15, 2013

Hello,

Before I begin, I want to thank you for the tremendous response I’ve received for this blog. And rest assured, I did get all your emails and while I will not be able to answer them all, I do intend to respond to pertinent questions in the upcoming weeks. 

As I have told players and staff, the cornerstone of our 2013 season is communication and accountability, and needless to say, it must begin with the president.

So thank you for your interest and patience. I will get back to you very shortly. 

I was at the Disney Classic a few weeks ago and after our victory there, a lot of people were telling me that winning a pre-season tournament didn’t necessarily mean we would have success in our second season in MLS - which is obviously true. 

However, I think that the tournament not only gave us confidence, but it also gave us a good indication of the progress we were making as a team compared to the previous year. 

To me, there were four elements we needed to work on this year to make us a better team on the field: winning on the road, defending set pieces, not losing a lead and scoring on set pieces. 

But above all, we needed to implement a winning mentality, something that escaped us at crucial moments last year. 

Now two games do not make a season, but after our wins in Seattle in Portland - in very hostile environments - I’m pleased to see that we are on the right track. 

No matter what happens in 2013, I’ve always said that the most important thing is that we need to improve. Both on and off the field, we always want to do better than the previous year. If we do, then we will have a good chance of reaching our objective of making the playoffs. 

More importantly, it will show that we are growing as a club. 

That being said, we are off to a great start, but as we all know, the season is not a sprint, but a marathon. 

Until the marathon ends, every game still has its own importance and meaning, starting with our home opener Saturday against our rivals Toronto FC, where we’ll try to continue where we left off on the West Coast.  

Thanks again for your time and see you on Saturday!

Joey


February 1st, 2013

Hi,

The New Year brings a new coach, so first and foremost, I want to welcome Marco Schällibaum to Montreal.

Selecting a coach is never an easy task and it was extremely important that we took the necessary time to go through the process, because our team is at a crucial moment of its existence and also because, quite frankly, I don’t want to do this again in the near future. 

So thank you for your patience in this matter, but I think it was well worth the wait. 

Marco is not only an experienced coach with nearly 10 years under his belt in the Swiss first division, but he is also a great educator, which is instrumental for the development of our young players and coaches.

Yes, we need a coach to lead us, but in many ways, if we want to improve, we also need a coach that can teach us.

With a UEFA pro coaching certification, Marco was also mandated by FIFA in recent years to develop coaches in Qatar and South Korea. Add to that the fact that he speaks four languages, and we’re in good hands.

He comes to Montreal with a one-year contract plus an option, but as far as I’m concerned, he can stay as long as he's happy here.  

With the draft also behind us, I also want to take the time to clarify a point regarding our choice of players. 

I’ve received many comments recently regarding the fact that the Montreal Impact is not interested in American players. This is simply not true. 

The only thing I mentioned was that Montreal has a different reality than other North American cities and because of this, our supporters expect to see European and South American players as well. 

However, a player will always be judged on three important criteria: his talent and skills, if he fulfills a specific need within the club and if he has the right mentality.

With a limited amount of foreigners allowed on our roster, we’re obviously going to look to American players as well, like we always have since the inception of this club. 

At the same time, we also want to foster and develop local talent to forge a strong sense of belonging between our fans and the club. 

So to succeed, we need to find the right blend of different players. But above and beyond their nationality, it’s the style and type of player that we need to look at, to make sure he fits in well with our team. 

This is true of the players we drafted in Indianapolis, of the players we develop, and of any player we will sign in the future.

Thanks for your time and please don’t hesitate to write should you have any questions. While I may not be able to answer every inquiry, I’ll do my best to address any pertinent issue. 

Joey
j.saputo@impactmontreal.com

 


December 12, 2012

Hello, 

As a season ticket holder, I would like you to know that I am extremely grateful for the commitment you have shown to the team. There is no doubt in my mind that the success of this club comes first and foremost through season ticket holders like you.

One of the great strengths of this team from its very beginnings in 1993 has been its accessibility and the special relationship it’s had with its fans. As the principal stakeholder, I decided to share with you, on a regular basis, what’s going on with the club.

As you know, missing the playoffs was a disappointment for the club - and for me personally - since I believe that we did not have a 7th place team. 

Having said that, to minimize the offseason, we had the option to continue training in Montreal for a few weeks. But I also felt like we needed to play games and it was important to have the team in the best soccer environment possible to prepare for next season. Those are some of the reasons why we decided to go to Italy for a three-game tour, which concluded with a 1-0 win over Fiorentina.

Our excellent relationship with Fiorentina gave us the opportunity to visit their new training facility, something that we are looking at for the near future.

The trip also gave our team the chance to be in a total soccer environment 24\7. It exposed the players to the true meaning of a club mentality. So really, this Italian tour wasn’t just about playing high-level games. It was also about continuing to find ways to make the Impact the best team it can possibly be, both on and off the field.

As I’ve said many times, I eventually want the Impact to be a complete club, with youth teams at every level. We launched our Academy last year precisely for that reason with U21, U18 and U16 teams in place, to better develop our young players. But, as we continue expanding the Academy, we also need to see what the best practices are around the world.

That’s why we went to Lyon in November to meet with the president of Olympique Lyonnais, Jean-Michel Aulas, and discuss how their Academy is structured.

Most of the players have now returned home in full force as they prepare for training camp, in January.

Thanks for your time and please send me a message at j.saputo@impactmontreal.com. I can’t promise I’ll answer everyone, but I will certainly try to write about any issue I feel needs to be addressed.

Joey Saputo