Ian Ayre will leave his position as Liverpool’s chief executive officer ahead of schedule at the end of February, with the search for his successor progressing well.
The 53-year-old will depart for TSV 1860 Munich after first taking some time off, where will serve as general manager, while the Reds will fill the position by the summer as planned.
Ayre, who announced his decision to vacate his hometown club in March last year after turning down the opportunity to stay on as he wanted a fresh challenge, was originally due to hand over responsibilities at the conclusion of the season.
But having overseen a 10-month transitional period for senior leaders along with Fenway Sports Group president Mike Gordon, he is confident the club have a solid operating framework in place to smooth the introduction of the new CEO.
This phase has seen a few structural changes at Liverpool. Billy Hogan has been promoted to managing director in addition to his responsibilities as chief commercial officer, while Andy Hughes has been elevated from chief financial officer to chief operating officer.
As part of Liverpool’s long-term vision, Jurgen Klopp and his backroom staff signed a new six-year deal last July, with Academy director Alex Inglethorpe also extending his contract as Michael Edwards was advanced to the club’s sporting director.
FSG praised the “outstanding contribution” Ayre has made in his 10 years of service, which has included a revamp and elevation of the Reds’ financial, commercial and operational structure.
While his tenure was not without criticism - transfer business and ticket prices were two contentious issues - he was significant in ensuring the successful exit of previous owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, stabilising Liverpool during FSG’s takeover in 2010.
Ayre also secured one of the most lucrative shirt sponsorship deals in football with Standard Chartered and was a core part of the Main Stand redevelopment process.
“It goes without saying that his leadership of LFC has been instrumental to the club’s progress under our ownership,” said Gordon.
“It is a measure of his character and his commitment to LFC 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.
“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.
“We are quite confident that LFC will have the right structure and the best people operating within that structure to fill the lofty ambitions of LFC and its supporters.”
Ayre added: “There is no greater professional satisfaction for me than to leave Liverpool Football Club in much improved health throughout than when I joined the club in 2007.
“This has always been more than just a job for me because of the emotional connection I have with the place. So, the only yardstick that has ever mattered, for every decision I have taken here, is whether or not it is in the best interests of Liverpool Football Club.
“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.
“As the club transitions to its next chapter, I made clear some time back that I felt that 2017 was the right time to step aside. As the club’s new structure starts to unfold, this is a natural point for me to say goodbye to the role of chief executive and to many friends, but my love and support for this great football club will continue as it has my whole life.”