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Joey Saputo worried by lack of buzz around the Montreal Impact

Where has the buzz gone?

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Candor has always been a quality of Joey Saputo, whenever the Montreal Impact President and Owner addresses the media, fans through social media, the press, radio and tv. During a media round-table, the first ever as per my suspect memory, Joey Saputo shared his thoughts and answered questions on the current status of the club, MLS and soccer culture in the city.

Complete Press Conference

YUL - BLQ = Exchange of services

As the co-owner of Bologna FC, Joey Saputo is able to use both assets to '' help each other " and confirmed that the Impact would provide a marketing , sales and hospitality expertise to Italy where clubs are mostly in behind as per best practices (exception to Juventus).

It was confirmed that the Impact would receive a soccer expertise from Bologna FC as per professional scouting, technical help and players going to practice with the Bologna's different squads for e.g.

Buzzwords: There is no Buzz

Honnêtement, le buzz pour l'Impact n'est plus là -- Honestly, the buzz for the Impact is gone

Those carefully chosen words were uttered by Joey Saputo when he answered Jeremy Filosa's question on the lack of infatuation/excitement around the club's biggest game of the year ( CCL QF against Pachuca). But beyond that, he declares that the buzz around the club in general has dissipated, if not disappeared.

It is quite scary if you listen to those words at first but isn't Joey Saputo's candor a sign of pure realism?

Money talks or lack thereof

The numbers , mentioned at the round table, are staggering and re-confirm the decline of the Montreal Impact in ticket sales.

  • The club has only sold 15,000 tickets to the CONCACAF Champions League quarter-final game against Pachuca. that number is not far from the 2009 numbers, at the same period. But Joey Saputo is direct when he iterates that '' we are maybe lucky'' if the club is able to sell 30,000 tickets.

The 55,000 fans at the Big O against Santos Laguna are fading like a mirage, like a distant memory as if it never happened.

  • The club is ranked 11th or 12th in MLS as per season tickets renewals: The objective to have a renewal rate of 80% has not been met yet, having only gotten to 60% as per Richard Legendre.

  • MLS has missed its tickets sale objective by 3M$ for the 2014 season. Montreal represents 2M$ out that gap. One club out of 19 is accountable for 2/3 of lost ticket sales during the 2014 season : Montreal.

T-26 Days and counting

Richard Legendre, Executive vice president of soccer operations, has insisted on the Impact's need to rally the troop and maximize the 26 days (or so) left to get the buzz back around what he calls, " the biggest international event of the year in Montreal". (re the CONCACAF QF home game)

We want to reverse the trend over the next few days, because we are going to play a crucial match in just 26 days and we must change things before it's too late. -- Richard Legendre

Is it too late to reverse the trend?

Also present at the round table was Hugues Léger , newly appointed VP of marketing. He declared that the website already had 25,000+ views within 7 days of the site going live and added that it's too early to see a big jump in ticket sales for the QF CCL home game.

It seems that there is still hope.

Transfer Market: Gilardino and Di Natale

  • Alberto Gilardino had agreed with the Impact on terms to join the MLS club but no agreements could be reached with Guangzhou Evergrande. Fiorentina swooped in at the eleventh hour and reach a deal with the Chinese club

  • The Impact owners wanted to make it clear that Antonio Di Natale is using the MLS as leverage with his club , Udinese, to get a better contract. He has confirmed that no one in MLS has offered 4M$ per year to the Italian with a 2-year contract.