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Giant of American football to bring his talents to City
THE man behind much of the success of one of America’s biggest football teams has become the general manager of Oxford City.
Craig Tornberg spent 17 years at Major League Soccer (MLS) club New England Revolution, many as general manager, and led the club to two trophies and four MLS finals in his time there.
He took the directorial role in the club – whose former players include Clint Dempsey and Walter Zenga – shortly before the American football league was founded in its current form in 1996.
They grew to become a trophy-winning side with a major stadium and fanbase.
He left the club in January this year, saying it was time to move on, but he has now been snapped up by Oxford City president Thomas Guerriero.
Mr Tornberg has just spent two weeks at City meeting fans and assessing the potential of the club.
He says he wants to see the club in the Premiership.
“We are going to improve its position – it’s going to become an important club,” he said.
“I did not come here to play in the Conference (Skrill North) league. I’m here to play at the highest level we can possibly get to.”
He said he wants to “re-package” and “commercialise” the club – and says he has the track record to prove it.
Of his time at the US club, he said: “In that 17 years, we earned millions of dollars in sponsorship revenue and gained the most match broadcasting on TV.”
One of his challenges is to attract local, national and international firms to invest in a club currently in the fifth tier of the football league.
Mr Tornberg said: “Companies should be suspicious about football – they need a return on their investment, to see value in what it is they are getting back. You can only deliver value by delivering what is important to their commercial interest.”
He also said pricing fans out of the games is not an option.
Current gates at Oxford City average about 300 and with 150,000 residents in the city, Mr Tornberg believes there is a lot of room for growth – although he accepts it will not happen quickly.
“The promotion structure does not allow you to change the club overnight,” he said.
“I am not so delusional as to think there will not be hiccups along the way,” he said.
“But the unthinkable is getting relegated.”
Mr Guerriero said: “Craig is a remarkable person and an expert at building organisations both on the pitch and in the community, as he showed from his years with the MLS’s New England Revolution.”
Craig Tornberg worked at New England Revolution between November 1995 and January this year.
In his time there, he made his way up from positions dealing with issues such as accounts to becoming first the assistant general manager in 2002 and then the general manager in 2004.
His time as general manager saw the club win the 2007 US Open Cup – the equivalent of the FA Cup – and the North American Superliga in 2008, in a tournament that sees the best US and Mexican teams compete. The club has never won the MLS, but reached the final in 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2007.
He went on to become Vice President – Business Development at the club, a position he held until the beginning of 2013. His salary is undisclosed.
He is married with two children.
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