After careers as an award-winning radio journalist in New York City and as a marketing and special events executive in Vail, CO, Payne became the National Administrator, and the Director of Marketing of the United States Soccer Federation in 1989. In 1991, he moved to New York and became the Executive Vice President and, ultimately, the President of Soccer USA Partners, which owned all marketing, broadcast and event promotion rights to the U.S. Men’s National Team leading up to the 1994 and 1998 World Cups.
In 1994, Payne created the first ownership group for D.C. United and the team began Major League Soccer play in 1996. Since then, D.C. United has become the most successful team in United States professional soccer history, boasting 12 major domestic and international championships. Currently, Payne is the President and General Manager of Toronto FC.
For his tireless efforts to promote soccer in this country, Payne was awarded the prestigious Werner Fricker Builder Award by U.S. Soccer in February 2011.
He is a founding member of the MLS/SUM Board of Governors, Chairman of the Technical Committee for the U.S. Soccer Federation, is the Vice Chairman of the U. S. Soccer Foundation, and is a member of the FIFA Standing Committee for Club Football. Payne is also a founding board member of United for D.C., the Greater Washington Sports Alliance and is a member of the Federal City Council.