Even while guiding one of the top franchises in the English Premier League, Ian Ayre has been keeping tabs on the progress of Major League Soccer.
Ian, formerly chief executive of Liverpool Football Club, was announced as CEO of Nashville MLS on Monday. He’ll assume responsibilities for the forthcoming expansion club on the field and in the business sector.
“I think if you look at MLS, particularly over the last five years, its trajectory has always been upward,” Ayre said. “Watching from afar and living in the UK, everybody has one eye on it because it’s really coming into its own.
“You can see growth both in revenues and quality of players being developed domestically and coming in internationally,” he continued. “In addition, there’s the size of the attendances and the crowds, so it’s all very positive and an opportunity to build something, and to be a part of that was an attraction.”
Ian spent 10 years at Liverpool, eventually becoming that club’s CEO, where he was responsible for all player transfer negotiations, including contract negotiations for the likes of Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez and Roberto Firmino.
He hopes his many contacts will benefit the new Nashville team, which was officially announced in December as part of the latest round of MLS expansion.
“Whether we’re recruiting in Europe, South America, North America, I have contacts through my whole career, really,” said Ayre, who stepped down from his position in Liverpool about a year ago. “But I certainly don’t have a particular view of where players might come from at this stage. It’s a big wide world a lot of talent out there.”
John Ingram, lead owner of Nashville MLS, said the club targeted Ayre through use of the Nolan Partners search firm.