Interview with Gabriel Gervais | “The hierarchy will be respected”

The sky is bright blue above CF Montreal right now. There is only one small cloud that persists in its horizon. And if it is not pushed back, it could turn into a thunderstorm cumulonimbus.

Posted at 6:00 a.m.

Jean-Francois Teotonio

Jean-Francois Teotonio
The Press

Like the one that fell on the Saputo stadium on Tuesday evening, just when The Press met the president of the CFM, Gabriel Gervais.

The cloud we are talking about here is the one represented by the contract file of head coach Wilfried Nancy.

Let’s make something clear right now: Nancy has a one-year option on her contract. CF Montreal only has to activate it for another year of the head coach at the helm of the team to be confirmed. And Olivier Renard, sports director and vice-president of the CFM, has already said that he wanted to wait until the end of the season to discuss it more seriously with the principal concerned. He said it on several occasions, notably in an interview with The Press a few weeks ago.

Tuesday, sitting in a box while the rain fell on the lawn of the enclosure, the president Gabriel Gervais assured in turn that an option, « it’s like a year of contract ».

“Coach Will has basically signed a three-year contract,” he explains, referring to his appointment as head coach at the start of the 2021 season.

“We, basically, are focusing on the current project, which is this season. We talk to Will, and we’ll get back to you […] when we have something material to announce to you. »


Wilfried Nancy, head coach of CF Montreal

That is. The question that remains, however, is why the club hasn’t already activated said option. As he did last year, after two consecutive defeats in May.

This year, it’s team performance on the field (hello, home playoffs). There is the transfer of Djordje Mihailovic to the Netherlands, a perfect example of Wilfried Nancy knowing how to carry out the club’s player training project. There’s also the diligent, forward-facing style of play that his players adhere to. And the supporters too.

All factors that make Wilfried Nancy today a candidate for the title of coach of the year in MLS. And which could even be worth more to him than the activation of the option, but a contract extension.

“We, the way we work, it is Olivier who leads the entire sports department, with his vice-presidency, explains Gabriel Gervais. I work with him, just like I work with the other vice-presidents. Together, we bring this to the board of directors. It is our decision, it is our recommendation. »

« The hierarchy will be respected in this case, » he confirms, when asked if owner Joey Saputo could interfere in this decision.

“Olivier leads all the contract renegotiation processes, whether with any member of the technical staff – and I include the coach in this –, people from the Academy, the players. »

At the Saputo stadium to stay there

The other question floating around Olympic Park these days is whether CF Montreal will play its playoff game(s) at its current home or that of the Monster Spectacular.

But the answer is increasingly obvious: all the stakeholders we spoke to want to play at Saputo Stadium. This is even the position of the president and the owner, assures Gervais.

“We are together on this,” he said.

We absolutely want to be able to have our playoff games here, at Stade Saputo.

Gabriel Gervais, President of CF Montreal

Especially since if the president’s « wildest dreams » are granted, the CFM could play the MLS Cup final there, scheduled for November 5.

“Obviously if it was December 5, I would tell you that it could be problematic to have that at the Saputo stadium. The stadium is not designed for winter. At the end of November, beginning of December, there can be winter conditions. The enclosure, the water, the pipes that are frozen and bursting. We want to provide the best experience. »

The final of the Canadian Championship in Montreal on November 21, 2021, “it was borderline,” he adds.

The president does not evaluate, moreover, the possibility of selling standing places in the series to increase the number of tickets sold beyond the 19,619 which constitute a full house.

The Big O, always useful in winter

The unloved synthetic surface of the Olympic Stadium, which belongs to CF Montreal, will soon be replaced.

And the investment in this new surface does not come from the club, but from the Olympic Park.

In the context where the CFM plans to make « improvements » to the Saputo stadium in the coming years, could these make it possible to abandon the option of playing a few games a year at the Big O?

We have to see what the returns on investment are, warns Gervais. He makes it clear that it would be very expensive to play outdoor games in winter by heating the field, compared to the idea of ​​“playing a few games next door, on a new surface”.

“If we make improvements here, that is to winterize the stadium all year round, it is still a big investment. »

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