Former Vancouver Whitecaps FC C.E.O. Mark Pannes (left) and Co-Owner Jeff Mallett (right) in Vancouver, B.C. on January 7, 2020. Photo: Har Journalist

VANCOUVER, B.C – In a shocking turn of events Vancouver Whitecaps FC parted ways with C.E.O Mark Pannes on Tuesday morning. Pannes joined the club on January 7, 2020. Whitecaps FC’s Axel Schuster will now step into the role as C.E.O. while remaining in his current role as Sporting Director.

The departure of Pannes, comes less than six months into his position with Whitecaps FC and this isn’t the first time a C.E.O. has left Whitecaps FC before finishing their contract. Paul Barber came over from Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur in February, 2010.

He lasted one MLS season.

On December 11, 2011 the club announced that Barber would resign effective February 29, 2012.

Just like Barber’s exit from Whitecaps FC, there are several unanswered questions as Pannes finds himself looking for a new job.

The Norwood, Massachusetts native leaves Whitecaps FC without any malfeasance.

Pannes was brought into the Vancouver organization to help repair a fractured relationship between the club and supporters. Whether it be via social media, in person, or simply picking up the phone and calling fans, Pannes quickly got to work to try and build bridges and push more engagement with the fan base.

He was instrumental in Whitecaps FC community initiatives to raise money for the Vancouver Aquarium and Greater Vancouver Food Bank.

“We are thankful to Mark Pannes for all his positive contributions to the club the last few months and his active role in a number of these successful community programs,” Whitecaps FC Co-Owner Jeff Mallett said in a press release. “He has been a passionate leader and we wish him all the best in the future.”

As a principal owner of the San Francisco Giants, Mallett fittingly used a baseball analogy to describe Pannes when he was named C.E.O earlier this year.

“Mark is a five-tool player. We’ve never had this ever, at this club.”

Perhaps Pannes was throwing a curveball into a well established structure that only wanted a slow diving sinker that eases across the plate.

Whitecaps FC have long been perceived as having too many cooks in the kitchen, and in this case many are speculating that ownership and the executive team weren’t on the same page with Pannes.

Pannes was able to bring a level of accountability and transparency, that the organization desperately needed. He was perhaps too honest for Whitecaps FC.

Sources have indicated that the up front approach from Pannes caused friction within the organization as early as Whitecaps FC media day on February 28, 2020.

“We’ve been on the same song sheet internally. There hasn’t been friction,” Mallett told reporters via conference call.

Whitecaps FC parted ways with Pannes before the six-month mark of his four-year contract. The timing of this decision leaves you wondering if there was an early get-out clause or a six month probationary period that could save Whitecaps FC money.

To say that the dismissal of Pannes was a berserk move, would be an understatement.

Although we are in the midst of a worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, you can add the departure of Pannes to a list of less-than-ideal Whitecaps FC news away from the pitch.

In April, it was revealed that former Whitecap, Anthony Blondell was charged with sexual assault stemming from an incident on May 12, 2018. Blondell is set to face a pretrial on December 1, 2020 with a trial set for Vancouver provincial court on January 12, 2021.

In May, it came to light that current Whitecaps FC players, Yordy Reyna and Jasser Khmiri broke social distancing rules by participating in soccer activities at a closed Vancouver park. The pair were captured by a Global BC television camera.

Reyna and Khmiri spent the next 14 days at home in self isolation.

Any organization that has had string of poor headlines will face an endeavours challenge of attracting new players, coaches, and scouts.

“Berserk and circus haven’t been in my vocabulary during any of this time at the club,” Mallett explained to Har Journalist. “Clearly we’ve made decisions that we thought were the best. Hiring Axel… he’s over performed and brought more to the club than we even anticipated. We factored that into our decision.”

The initial hiring of Pannes was widely viewed as one of the best acquisitions the club has made in quite some time. The former C.E.O of Serie A club Roma, and Vice President of marketing for the New York Knicks brought a vast level of experience on both sides of the pond. In this particular scenario, he was not what Whitecaps FC wanted in a C.E.O.

Any organization would be lucky to have Pannes. There is no doubt given the work Pannes has done throughout his career, that he will be snapped up right away.

As long as Whitecaps FC take two steps forward and one step backwards, it will be a struggle to reach the heights and expectations the fans expect to see from a top football club.

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Vancouver Whitecaps FC striker Fredy Montero at the NSDC at UBC on Tuesday, May 12, 2020. Photo: Whitecaps FC

VANCOUVER, B.C – As the world waits for the return of sports, many athletes are keeping busy, and spending time with their loved ones who they wouldn’t necessarily see during a hectic season. Vancouver Whitecaps FC striker, Fredy Montero is making the most of his new found time with his family.

Montero’s career has taken him all over the world, and that has cut into quality time with his wife, Alexis and his two daughters, Vivienne, and Ruby. Self isolation and social distancing has resulted in Montero learning new chores at home.

“We’re chilling,” Montero explained to Har Journalist earlier this week. “You know my life, and my career, we’ve travelled a lot. It’s fun to be spending time together.

She’s (Alexis) showing me how to clean the house and under the bed. It’s difficult for my back. I’m learning how to bake, my kids are loving it. I bake muffins and cupcakes.”

When Montero isn’t working on his latest recipe, he has found a challenge that most parents can relate to.

“I honestly have been focused on home schooling,” Montero said. “Just keeping my girls entertained, that’s hard sometimes. I’m an okay teacher. Sometimes I reach my patience limit. I help my oldest daughter with math class. I can read some books, the easy ones. I’m an okay teacher, nothing crazy.”

Earlier this week, Whitecaps FC players were able to return to the National Soccer Development Centre for individual player workouts. May 12, was the first time Montero was able to kick a ball since the COVID-19 pandemic suspended MLS.

The first Whitecaps FC individual workout featured 16 players in separate groups.

Yordy Reyna and Jasser Khmiri did not participate.

Both players are in a 14 self isolation after breaking social distancing rules on May 5.

“I mean they know what they’re doing and I have no comment,” Montero said. “The action has consequences and they have to follow what the league and team told them to do.”

Montero is optimistic that MLS will return. In what capacity that is, that remains to be seen. A hub city in Orlando, Florida could potentially be a short term solution, but that faces plenty of hurdles before the beautiful game can kick off.

“Yeah, I think we have plenty of time,” Montero said. “Every single industry in North America is adapting to this pandemic. I believe MLS is going to do the same. It’s not going to be a long tournament as we’re use to, but we’re going to go back to the real games for sure.”

The feel of live matches is what fans are longing to see. The Bundesliga is set to return on Saturday without any fans in stadiums. The possibility of MLS players playing football in an empty stadium is a foreign concept to fans, but it’s not all that rare for players.

“Yes, I had the opportunity in 2013,” Montero revealed. “It was an official match on TV for three points on the line. It was something that didn’t look one hundred percent normal. The fact that the fans aren’t there, we need to adapt. That’s what we need to do to be safe. The people can watch the games at home. That’s what we need to do. We need to follow every other league in the world.”

Montero’s Seattle based Santo Coffee Co, has had to find a way to generate business during what has been an unprecedented time. While customers can no longer come in, sit down, and relax with a coffee, they can still order a cuppa to go.

“It’s hard honestly,” Montero said. “We are open only Saturday and Sunday (9:00 am – 4:00 pm) you can only takeaway. We are working with an app, and you can order ahead, just show up and get what you ordered. I would say I think we have loyal customers that have been supporting us through these hard times. For any small company it’s tough.”

It’s been a tough few months for all of us, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. It’s certainly a long tunnel, but sports are slowly returning, and brighter days are ahead.

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