By Greg Stobart | Northern Correspondent
Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre has called for Uefa's financial fair play rules to be strongly enforced to avoid being “killed” if they are not applied evenly across Europe.
The new rules, which come into force in 2014, mean that clubs will be banned from playing in European competitions if they spend more than they earn.
But with big clubs such as Manchester City and Chelsea some way from complying with the new regulations, Ayre is concerned that the rules will initially be enforced by individual associations.
“My concern is that sanctions will not be applied evenly,” Ayre said at the Soccerex conference in Manchester. “I think rules should be rules, they should be hard and fast rules. What would kill the initiative – or certainly stifle it – would be people easing themselves into it.
“Moving forward, the proof will be in the pudding," he continued. "The reservations are around the application. Everybody is keen to see how it will be applied and if it will be applied. Will the timetable work? Will people be given grace periods?
“It needs to be truly applied and the sanctions implemented. That is the key to its success – getting to a steady stage where we can all see its real value.
“You can't have a half-rule process – it's important if we want to achieve what the objective was set out for. The reality will lie in the application.
Ayre revealed that Liverpool are on course to meet the fair play requirements after the takeover of the club in October cleared most of the debt.
He also confirmed that the Reds are actively pursuing potential naming rights partners for their next stadium project, whether that is redeveloping Anfield or building a new ground on Stanley Park.
Ayre secured Liverpool's £21 million-a-year shirt sponsorship deal with Standard Chartered bank in his previous role as commercial director – and he is concerned about how such partnerships may be interpreted under the financial fair play rules.
He added: “Naming rights is a real concern from our perspective. It's something we are very much talking to people about right now. What is the accepted number? What is the market price?
“Our last shirt sponsorship deal was a 200 per cent increase. Was that the market value or did we do very well?
“If that was today, the question is whether it would be acceptable or unacceptable.
“There are not that many truly global football brands. We need to know the benchmark if we build a new stadium.
“The market value for a smaller club will be much lower than a deal for Liverpool.”