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Money Talks

With Liverpool Football Club releasing their 2011-2012 accounts, Liverpool's Managing Director Ian Ayre has given his views on where the venerable football institution stands financially.

Michael Regan

As with any collection of statistics and facts, an inventive mind can spin them to suit whatever narrative they happen to be driving. It would take a mind differently wired to mine to pick a logical path through the mass of turnovers, revenues, inter-company loans, interest fees, wage-bills and debt that has been revealed in the figures just published.

Ian Ayre, Liverpool's Managing Director, is bullish about the direction in which the club is headed. When questioned about whether or not fans should be anxious about the stark 22 million pound rise in club debt, Ayre said it was not something "anyone should be worried or concerned about." He insisted that it was a "seasonal" thing and that bank loan facilities are created simply to manage cash-flow, as in any business.

"Debt has increased," acknowledged Ayre, but it is "a factor of doing business in the time and place we are." The MD went on to make some soothing points about how the monies in and out will fluctuate due to the timing of tranfser and wage outlay as opposed to the revenues generated at specific times by sponsorship deals, ticket revenues and media payments.

In a somewhat unfortunate move, Ayre pointed to the ongoing outlay on "historic player deals" as a drain on club resources, citing the payments for Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing in particular. With a staggering underestimation of the cerebral capacities of the average fan, he opined that a lot of people probably wouldn't relate to the fact that improving the squad and making investment in it could lead to "knock-on costs that will create debt in the short term." Nice of him to tease out that complex concept for us.

A soundbite that will be more appealing to most, was his categorical statement that Liverpool Football Club "will continue to invest in the squad," before taking the sheen off it somewhat with the pesky notion of doing it "prudently and in a sustainable way that is affordable."

The redevelopment of Anfield was, once again, dragged out and given an airing. The language used by Ayre is spectacularly cagey. The club, he assured us, has "an absolute aspiration to stay at Anfield and extend." In a display of fabulous vagueness dressed as positivity, he told reporters that "there has been great progress made,"and that the club were "optimistic" they could achieve their "aspirations."

So, a lot of numbers and more of the same open ended hopeful talk which can be interpreted in a plethora of ways. For now, most of us will choose to focus on the positive bent of Ian Ayre's words.

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