July 8, 2012; Foxboro, Massachusetts, USA; The New England Revolution head coach Jay Heaps talks with Robert Kraft during the first half against the New York Red Bulls at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE
Yesterday, an email from an anonymous "senior staff member at Kraft Sports Group" was re-posted on The Drug Is Football. The message purported to bring some damning facts about the state of ownership in Foxboro to light, and basically let everyone know that Robert Kraft is disappointed, and wants to move the team.
Let me be clear about something: The Bent Musket received this email. Initially, this guy (using the address email@example.com) sent his missive to The Bent Musket, Corey Major individually, Kyle McCarthy, the Midnight Riders, and Evan Whitney. None of us, not a single one of us, decided to report it. There was no collusion on our part, either (except between the TBM staff, obviously); we just looked at it and knew it was a disgruntled fan with enough time on his or her hands to put something together that is just plausible enough to get reasonable people stirred up.
What I did do, though, was email him back. We had a short email conversation that served only to reinforce my belief that there's nothing to this email at all. Furthermore, Brendan Schimmel called Revs executives to get their take, and to say that the response was "dismissive" wouldn't do it justice. I believe the term "absolutely preposterous" might have been used. I'm going to share our correspondence with the mystery revealer now.
Hi, I have been looking to share some information with key Revs' fans and I have come across your names and e-mails through some various websites such as Big soccer and the Bent Musket.
I am sharing this information with you for a variety of reasons - and to be totally transparent I am concerned for my own job security as I work for the Krafts (not the Revs but closely aligned) - I am sorry I can't tell you more but I have been with them for more than 5 years and this is the worst I have seen things with the Revs. And that is saying something as we all know they almost went belly up in the late 1990s after the contraction of Miami and Tampa. Also by way of transparency, I am not a soccer fan. Perhaps if the Revs were better - but well, they're not.
I am telling you this information so you can perhaps put some pressure on your contacts within the organization or MLS to find out if there are any truths to what I and a few of my co-workers have been hearing internally.
Here's what we have been hearing:
1. Bob Kraft is now sufficiently embarrassed with the incomptence of the Revs organization. He's truly frustrated by the team's poor performance over the past few years and he's growing more and more agitated as the franchise loses ground in the league. He knows his reputation is being stained by this situation. The bad thing is, neither he nor his staff know how to fix the problem unless more money is spent. This is really the heart of the matter. Last-minute doubleheaders and boxing matches are what they are throwing at the wall now, hoping something sticks.
2. Kraft also knows that his goodwill in the soccer community is evaporating. No more key U.S. soccer matches will come to Foxboro and the AC Milan match was a disaster. The Revs received a pretty good scolding from AC Milan for the pathetic showing a few weeks back regarding the attendance. While AC Milan was drawing good crowds everywhere else, they were pissed they had to play at 4:30 on a Saturday on fake grass before 17,000. Kraft has been trying to mend fences since with the Italian Soccer Federation ever since.
3. The team is also considered bad news within MLS circles - as you probably know they (league bosses) have an unspoken rule about limiting the number of games that are shown on national TV from Foxboro. Yes they have actually spoken about this.
4. All of this leads to this .....While he's not ready to pull the plug, we are hearing - from some key people within the organization - that he is at a fork in the road with the franchise. Fact: He's not going to spend his own money to build a new soccer-specific stadium unless he gets the land for free within Rt 128 -- anyone who says otherwise is either lying or out of the loop. That said, the team is nowhere and I mean nowhere close to acquiring any property.
Kraft has done a salary dump and opened up some space for NEXT season. He's pondering whether to replace the current leadership (some or all) and maybe give it one more go - that's why there is so much focus on season tickets for next year. IF the team is terrible next year and the fanbase remains apathetic (I know, chicken or the egg arguement right? If the team is good they will come, etc). - then Kraft could consider an offer that the league has floated -- and it revolves around DC United.
DC is looking for their own stadium - preferably within the district. They also have been working with the city of Baltimore and the Maryland Stadium Authority. From what we understand, the city of Batlimore has made some pretty good proposals and offered land, financing (bonds) and linkage to help with the project. So what does this have to do with the Revs? - well if DC United gets their own stadium within Dc (or at least at commitment) - then the Baltimore plans still exist. Some league honchoes have suggeted that 1. Kraft sells a majorty stake in the Revs to some agreed upon local Maryland owners; 2. the league then relocates the team to Baltimore and gets a stadium built for cheap; 3. Kraft retains minority ownership in the team and. 4. he is given a ten-year window to bring a team back to Boston (at which time he would relinquish minority ownership in the Baltimore team). And DC United would love having a close rival and would not object either.
From what we understand, Kraft is seriously considering this - and he'd save his reputation by saying "clearly soccer needs to be in the city. Without that downtown stadium, this is an exercise in futility, and we now realize this. While we are sad to see the team go, we retain the right to a franchise and will focus all of our efforts on getting a stadium built within Rt. 128 as soon as possible." This will also put pressure (maybe) on local officials to help with a stadium initiative - which is something that Kraft has gotten none of over the past 10 years.
So you now know what a few of us within the organizations think is going on. While this might be soccer talk for the Revs fans, please realize that for others like myself this is about our jobs and livelihood. What you do with this information, is up to you. Feel free to make this public if you think it warrants it - we have not sent this to the main stream press because well, the Globe and the Herald do not wish to get on the bad side of Kraft it seems.
Our first response:
All right. I'll take the bait on this.
I don't believe you. This is exactly the sort of thing a concerned, angry fan would send hoping to stir the pot publicly. A fan who would be justified in his anger, of course; but still just trying to start crap.
I'll tell you what doesn't make sense to me: I don't think Bob Kraft gives more than a passing damn about the competence/incompetence of the organization. Jonathan might, but what it comes down to is that he can fix that. Both of them can. They're in charge. The culture of the organization starts at the top and both of them are good enough businessmen - sports businessmen, specifically - to realize that. The idea that the Milan staff would be pissed at them is totally plausible; the idea that it matters all that much to the Krafts is not. But hey, who knows, I could be wrong.
The stadium troubles are well-documented, but we've been here before. Bob threatened to build Gillette in Hartford years ago, but it was just to drum up public interest. If this were real, he'd go public himself.
Finally, I don't buy that there's a group of people concerned for their livelihoods. Yes, jobs would be lost, but I can't think of anyone who wouldn't readily find new employment, even in this economy. Plus, the percentage of employees in the Kraft empire who aren't players/staff and who work for just the Revs is very small; most employees also work for the stadium/event staff, or for the Patriots. There could be a fear of lost jobs, like I said, but it's not like the one mill in a mill town threatening to move. I don't think it would motivate something like this.
So, that's where I stand. I'm tossing the ball back in your court. If you can give me something else - like, say, your identity - that would allow me to verify you as a good source, and/or verify the information you sent, I'd be happy to start to disseminate the info.
The Bent Musket
I appreciate your skepticism and that's fine. I was just sharing some information with you -- what you do with it, is entirely up to you. If that means nothing then so be it. That's your call.
While I am not an angry fan, I am a frustrated employee -- why? Because my job might be on the line. Thats' why I'm worried -- and I am not the only one. Agreed we are not talking about hundreds of jobs -- but those of us who potentially could be impacted are naturally worried.
I was repeating to you some stories/rumors/tales -- whatever you want to call them -- that we have heard here in the office. Whether they are legitmate well I don't have the upepr-level connections that some media or supporters might have.
You are 100% right that obviously the Krafts have the ability to change things with a greater emotional and financial investment. What we have heard is that this won't happen until someone gets the Krafts some land -- a city, town, country, whatever. And no one thinks this is going to happen quickly.
One other point, contrary to what you might think, Kraft is sufficiently embarrassed to the point of some type of action. How radical and when? We have no idea.
Finally, I'm not a big player at all in this disussion -- nor do I want to be. The people who have been talking are more important and some of us have been surprised by what they said.
Whether you want to follow up and ask them some questions, well that's up to you I guess.
Our next response:
The biggest problem for me is that my credibility is on the line. Before I try to have those conversations, I need to know I'm getting this from a reputable source. For example, who you are. If you're trying to stay anonymous, it's not as though I'm going to break the fourth wall on you here.
The final correspondence, from Fborostaff:
For a variety of reasons including my job, I am not exposing myself. I hope you can understand and appreciate that.
By the same token, I respect that your credibility is on the line. In your line of works, that's paramount of course. Again, I make no claims about the accuracy of this information as we are not key players. But if it something that you can use then great. If not, then so be it.
So there it is. This person may feel that his/her fears of losing anonymity were well-founded since I'm posting all of this, but of course, the only reason I'm doing that is because he/she did not reveal his/her identity.
I'll go into detail and dissect the ludicrousness of the entire email later. For now, I just wanted this out there. We got this email and made attempts to corroborate it or support it, and found nothing. Now you all know as much as we do.