Departing Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre is to leave three months ahead of schedule following a successful transition at the top of the club’s business operations.
Ayre, who is due to join German second division side 1860 Munich this summer, will now go at the end of this month with everything in place for his successor – to be announced in due course – to take over.
Mike Gordon, president of Liverpool’s owners Fenway Sports Group, and Ayre have overseen the process following the latter’s announcement last March that he was to leave after a decade’s service, and Press Association Sport understands Ayre’s early release would not have been permitted had FSG not been entirely happy with how well placed they now were.
“On behalf of John and Tom, I would like to place on record the outstanding contribution Ian has made to Liverpool Football Club over the past 10 years,” said Gordon, on behalf of FSG principal owner John W Henry and chairman Tom Werner.
“It goes without saying that his leadership of LFC has been instrumental to the club’s progress under our ownership.
“It is a measure of his character and his commitment that we have been able to collectively plan and execute such a gradual, natural transition.
“On both a professional and personal level, he will be missed.”
A number of changes have been made to the management structure in the last year and the promotion of Billy Hogan to managing director and chief commercial officer and Andy Hughes to chief operating officer have now been officially confirmed by FSG.
“The promotions are a reflection of their first-rate performance as executives and carry additions to their respective roles and responsibilities,” Gordon added.
“These changes have already ushered in improvements to the club’s operations and they will also serve to ensure management stability during the transition to new executive leadership.
“The last step remaining is to conclude the process of identifying and hiring a successor to Ian.
“We are very pleased with the search progress and fully expect to have our new CEO in position by our original deadline of the summer 2017.”
During his time at Liverpool, Ayre has overseen a complete overhaul of their financial, commercial and operational structure and played an instrumental part in the successful exit of the previous owners in 2010.
He secured the Standard Chartered Bank sponsorship – believed to be one of the most lucrative shirt sponsorship deals in football – significantly increased commercial revenues for reinvestment into the team and played a crucial role in the £125million redevelopment of the Main Stand and the wider regeneration of the Anfield area.
“There is no greater professional satisfaction for me than to leave Liverpool Football Club in much improved health throughout than when I joined here in 2007,” Ayre said.
“My journey here over the last decade has been a rich mix of challenges and opportunities, a journey only made possible by the outstanding people I have had the honour to work with along the way both inside and outside the club.
“This is a natural point for me to say goodbye to the role of chief executive to many friends, but my love and support for this great football club will continue as it has my whole life.”