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Ayre Says No (Sale of Luis Suarez)

Suarez is sorry, the club has handed him a fine that will go to a good cause, and FA punishment is inevitable—and as far as Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre is concerned, that should be the end of this latest controversy.

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Alex Livesey

With Luis Suarez looking to sink his teeth into an opponent for the second time in his career, a mad scramble spot of damage control from Liverpool was always on the cards. Whether that damage control would actually be borderline competent, though, was an open question for Liverpool fans after the ham-fisted manner in which the club has dealt with past incidents of Suarez run amok.

Following on from his immediate apology on Twitter and with managing director Ian Ayre having ridden back into town after cancelling his Australia trip, so far at least the club and player seem to be managing to say the right things. Whether those right things he and the club continue trying to say are genuine will, of course, likely spark an ongoing debate that breaks largely along club lines.

Whether the club is genuine in its insistence that this latest headache will not result in Suarez being made available to the highest bidder over the summer likely won't find a certain answer any time soon, either. Still, for Liverpool and Suarez, even saying and doing the right things in the wake of a controversial incident hasn't always come easily. So, you know, baby steps.

"I think the most important thing is that we acted swiftly yesterday," was Ayre's take on the matter a day after Suarez went at Branislav Ivanovic's forearm like a rabid marmot. "Luis issued his apology and then we spoke with him last night and then again this morning. We've taken action to fine Luis for his actions.

"Brendan has spoken to him and I've spoken to him, and Brendan will be working with him further on his discipline. You can see when you speak to him how sorry he is about it and he's certainly shown quite a lot of contrition to us—and as part of that, he's also asked we donate the fine to the Hillsborough Family Support Group.

"I think he felt like he let a lot of people down yesterday. We'll work with Luis—Brendan particularly—on this side of his character in his game. Hopefully that puts the matter to rest from our point of view and we'll wait and see if there's any further action from the football authorities."

On face value, the instant response from both the club and Suarez, as well as the player's desire to see the fine funneled to the Hillsborough Family Support Group in an act of contrition that appears to recognise Liverpool fans were as hurt as anyone by his actions on Sunday, can only be classed a very good thing.

There will, of course, be suggestions this is nothing but a PR stunt; an idea formulated by a faceless suit behind the scenes and presented to Suarez as the best chance of navigating his way out of an unfortunate situation. And it may be just that. Unknowable motivations aside, though, at least this time around the club and player have reacted quickly and properly.

And no matter how genuine the sentiment might be, both the message and the desire to see the fine turned into something positive for the larger Liverpool community are the right ones. Further, after insisting he and Rodgers had been in contact with the club's owners regarding the situation, Ayre went on to reiterate that as was the case before the incident there are no plans now for the club to sell Suarez.

"It [only] affects his future in the sense that we have to work with him on his discipline," insisted Ayre, "but Luis is a very important player. He's a very popular player with his team-mates. As we keep saying, he signed a new four-year contract last summer and we'd all love to see him here throughout that contract. He's a fantastic player, top scorer, and everything we'd want in a striker, so there's no change there.

"This is more about getting him back on the right track and it's largely down to Brendan now to work with him on that side of his character".

Well then. Suarez will not be sold. Probably. Over to you, Brendan—best of luck making sure people aren't talking about another terrifyingly random and entirely unprovoked lashing out on the pitch six months down the road.

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