Heavy lifter John Furlong becomes a Whitecap

April 12, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Whitecaps Season 2012 | 3 Comments

The recent departure of CEO Paul Barber from the Vancouver Whitecaps left a big hole at the top of the club’s executive structure. Barber’s previous involvement as an executive with Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League gave the Whitecaps a certain status as a serious football club. While I had every confidence in Rachel Lewis, one of the young stars of the BC business scene, who took over some of Barber’s duties along with Bob Lenarduzzi, the lack of a proven star at the top of the Whitecaps executive group left me with some concern.

All concerns are gone now as John Furlong, a hero of Vancouver’s highly successful 2010 Winter Olympics, will fill the star vacuum at the top of the club.  Having served as  Chief Executive Officer of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, Furlong brings that status and power with him to the Whitecaps.  I am tremendously pleased with this development, which I believe will be a true benefit to the Whitecaps over the long run (provided he commits properly to the club for a significant time unlike Barber). When Furlong walks into the room, he carries a huge reputation for success with him.  He has proven he can make very big things happen.

His title will be “Executive Chair” rather than Chief Executive Officer.  I take this to be a nod to the role of Rachel Lewis, who as “Chief Operating Officer” who took over much of the CEO duties Barber left behind.

Furlong was brilliant in his Olympic role, helping the Olympics through both triumph and tragedy.  He handled the death of the Georgian Luger very sensitively, even travelling to Georgia for the young man’s funeral, a gesture which showed great character.

His ability to murder the French language will bewilder the Montreal Impact when they come to play the Whitecaps.  If he gives them a welcome speech at the airport when they arrive, we will surely beat them.  He is also tall, so perhaps he can start at striker if Eric Hassli’s poor goalscoring record continues.

My own hope is that Furlong can make the Whitecaps’ long term vision of its own soccer specific stadium with a grass pitch a reality.  Ultimately the club needs a 30-35,000 seat soccer specific stadium with a grass pitch in order to fulfill its ambition to be one of the world’s top football clubs. As the abortive Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium effort has proven, this is a huge task that will require a lot of political goodwill.  Furlong has the political pull and ability to make it happen.

Welcome to the club John Furlong!

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3 Comments »

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  1. I think the club is putting the cart far ahead of the horse with its plans for its own soccer specific stadium downtown.

    As much as I would love to see such plans come to fruition, it’s far more incumbent on the club to demonstrate that it’s capable of selling 20,000 seasons tickets on a regular basis — and doing that will require a lot of time and continued improvement of the on-field product.

    I’d also like to see the rhetoric surrounding becoming “one of the world’s top football clubs” fall by the wayside. Let’s learn how to walk before we start talking about doing marathons. I’ve been a fan since the old NASL days, and I wish the organization every success. But the Whitecaps need to focus on becoming a top MLS team, and then a top CCL team before entertaining any global aspirations.

    It’s all well and good to have objectives — but they need to be realistic, incremental, and attainable and sustainable.

    • Sobering thoughts, RR. I tend to agree with you. What we need is a good playoff run to get this town buzzing.

      • Now *that* would be a great start. With the other in-season Vancouver team looking to fall from the playoffs early, I hope that we see attendance figures for the Caps look slightly better than they did last year.


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