Ian Ayre will leave England's most successful club at the end of May next year, ending his association at the club after a decade in various roles. Liverpool will be tasked with finding a replacement -- hopefully an improvement as the club seeks progress in all areas -- for the Liverpudlian.
Ayre joined the club in 2007 as commercial director during the era of Rafa Benítez and joined the board two years later. This took place during the unfortunate tenure of owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett. A key success for Ayre as commercial director was securing Standard Chartered Bank as a shirt sponsor in what was commonly agreed to be a good deal for Liverpool.
FSG -- then known as NESV -- took over the club in October 2010 and promoted Ayre the following year to managing director. More confidence from the club's hierarchy in his abilities led to an increase in powers when Ayre became chief executive in May 2014. In the last couple of years, Ayre has been a key figure in negotiations for some high-profile transfers. Love Roberto Firmino? Then credit the man who was integral in the push to tie a deal up relatively quickly.
Sometimes seen as a figure of fun or as a convenient scapegoat, Ian Ayre has played a significant role in Liverpool's recent history. For some, Liverpool have needed to upgrade his position in a similar manner that has brought Jürgen Klopp into our grateful arms. Both FSG and Ayre have brought Liverpool up to speed in terms of commercial revenue, but the presence of the transfer committee and a patchy transfer strategy have been routinely -- perhaps unfairly -- described as decidedly underwhelming.
Principal owner John W. Henry, chairman Tom Werner and president Mike Gordon made a joint statement in praise of what Ayre has achieved so far, drawing attention to the stability and financial growth that Ayre has been involved in. What will be interesting to observers was their confirmation that he was asked to stay on as CEO beyond his current deal, but to their disappointment, he could not be swayed. The man himself explained his decision and outlined his focus for the year ahead.
"If becoming chief executive of Liverpool Football Club was the greatest honour of my professional life, then deciding to step down at the end of my current contract is by far the most difficult," Ayre said, beginning a long goodbye that will last for 15 good months.
"Having the privilege to lead this great club comes with huge responsibility and challenge but one which I have relished and I feel proud of my achievements in the role. I believe the end of next season is the right time to pass the CEO baton on to a new person, who will take on the challenges and opportunities with a fresh enthusiasm and vigour.
"They will do so supported by what I believe to be the best ownership group in world sport and by a truly excellent team of staff throughout the football club. Having been brought up in the shadow of Anfield, I have found it the most profound privilege to serve the club I have supported all my life.
"The driving principle behind every decision I have taken during my time here has been to do the best for the long-term stability and health of this great football club. In the remaining 15 months I have as CEO, I will continue to provide FSG, Jürgen, the players and all the brilliant staff at Liverpool ongoing strategic leadership and a smooth transition."
With Jürgen Klopp as a manager, an expanded Anfield, and a new CEO incoming, we're in a time of change at Liverpool FC. It is hoped that the club will be able to find an upgrade for Ayre similar to what has been achieved with the stadium and managerial position.