Ex-Liverpool boss Ayre named Nashville MLS chief exec

New York (AFP) –


Ian Ayre, former chief executive of English football power Liverpool, was named Monday as CEO of Nashville's Major League Soccer expansion club expected to begin play in 2020.

The Tennessee team, approved for the US country music capital by the league last December, was pleased to land the English Premier League's 2017 Chief Executive of the Year.

"We are committed to bringing world-class soccer to Nashville as evidenced by the appointment of Ian," Nashville MLS lead owner John Ingram said.

"Ian understands our vision for Nashville MLS and has the skill and experience to bring the best in soccer to our city. His passion for the sport and the business of the game, along with his progressive approach and commitment to community, will help us create Nashville's MLS club."

In 10 years at Liverpool, Ayre rebuilt the organization at commercial, operational and football levels and oversaw a $160 million stadium expansion.

Ayre, a Liverpool native, handled negotiations on more than 100 player contracts -- including those of Phillipe Coutinho, Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez -- and worked with five coaches, including Rafael Benitez, Roy Hodgson, Kenny Dalglish, Brendan Rodgers and Jurgen Klopp.

Ayre left the English club last year for Germany's 1860 Munich but stayed only three months, departing shortly before the team was relegated to the third division.

"The opportunity to put Nashville on the national and international soccer map is a truly outstanding challenge, and I literally cannot wait to get started," Ayre said.

"Becoming chief executive officer of the Nashville MLS club is a unique opportunity in the global soccer community. To take what is essentially a blank sheet of paper and build an entire club is an amazing challenge, and one I am hugely excited about."

Nashville will host the 24th MLS club with David Beckham's Miami expansion team expected to join in 2020 or later.