Galaxy’s Payne out in AEG “reorganization”*

*Post updated

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Galaxy President of Business Operations Tom Payne, 47, (right), responsible for all the club’s front office moves, and Director of Communications Patrick Donnelly, a long-time fixture in the team’s public relations department, have both left the franchise in what parent company Anschutz Entertainment Group is characterizing as a “reorganization.”

In place of Payne comes Palos Verdes Peninsula resident Chris McGowan, chief operating officer with the Los Angeles Kings, who will assume the same title with the Galaxy. He has been with the Kings 16 years.

Michael Altieri, vice president of communications and content with the Kings, will head up the Galaxy’s PR efforts.

Youth Academy Director Chris Klein will also take on an expanded role in the club’s front office, deputizing for McGowan.

The changes, plus others within AEG, are expected to be formally announced Friday. They were first reported by former Galaxy GM Alexi Lalas on Wednesday who Tweeted: “AEG says current @LAGalaxy President Tom Payne is “transitioning out of the organization”.”

Payne joined the Galaxy in 2003 as assistant general manager and rose to the position of President of Business Operations in November 2008.

In that role he assumed responsibility for ticket sales, marketing, communications and the like.

Perhaps significantly, the Galaxy did not regularly sell out 24,500-seat Home Depot Center last year, despite going unbeaten at home and hoisting the MLS Cup at year’s end.

The New York native is the brother of D.C. United executive Kevin Payne.

Donnelley had been with the Galaxy for more than 10 years, rising through the ranks of the club’s communications department.

Updated Friday

Here’s what Galaxy and AEG CEO Tim Leiweke had to say today about the appointment of the 38-year-old McGowan to the COO post:

“With our recent MLS Cup Championship, the return of David Beckham and our outstanding roster heading into this season, the Galaxy will continue their rapid growth in this marketplace under Chris’ leadership. Also with the addition of our new partnership with Time Warner Cable Sports, we now have a tremendous opportunity to significantly increase our reach and support in both the English and Spanish-speaking population, and with Chris’ knowledge combined with AEG’s resources, we expect that growth to be unprecedented in our history with the Galaxy.”

Reading between the lines, it seems that under the leadership of Tom Payne, the Galaxy simply wasn’t growing its audience at the pace the hard-charging Leiweke expected.

Nevertheless, Payne claims it was his decision to leave the Galaxy:

“After nine great years here at the Home Depot Center, I have made the decision to leave the Galaxy organization. I have enjoyed my time with the club and have fond memories of all the great things that we have accomplished, including winning the MLS Cup last year in front of our home fans. During my time I have been able to see the growth of this club not only here locally, but also nationally and internationally, and I am proud to have been able to play a significant role in that growth.”

Payne will temporarily remain with the Galaxy to assist in the transition.

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  • http://soccerstoriesbook.wordpress.com Donn Risolo

    Some say that MLS has surpassed the National Hockey League as the country’s No. 4 professional team sport. Average attendance figures back that up, as do intagibles like these changes in the Galaxy front office. Back in the NASL’s heyday, many club marketing and P.R. types hoped to use their pro soccer job as a stepping stone to something a whole lot bigger, like something in the NHL. Now, hockey people are moving up–or at least sideways–to pro soccer. A small matter, but soccer’s progress in the U.S. over the past three decades has been made up of millions of small matters.

  • Joseph D’Hippolito

    So Leiweke is dumping long-time members of the Galaxy organization for people from the Kings? AEG’s policies (such as raising ticket prices for next season) are driving Kings’ fans away in droves. Apparently, Leiweke doesn’t understand that the passion Kings’ fans have has nothing to do with anything AEG does.

    These moves rank right down there with Leiweke hiring 19 Entertainment essentially to run the Galaxy in 2008. We all know how well that worked out, don’t we, boys and girls?

    Leiweke is proof positive that to work for AEG, let alone rise in the ranks, you have to have your brains sucked out upon hiring.