Bill Shankly famously once said: "The socialism I believe in is everybody working for the same goal and everybody having a share in the rewards. That's how I see football, that's how I see life." So how ironic it is that Liverpool’s current Managing Director, Ian Ayre, a scouser, born just a stone throw away from Anfield, should recently suggest something so fundamentally to the contrary.

Ayre’s view that Liverpool need to seriously consider the possibility of seeking a larger slice of the overseas TV rights money given their inflated status abroad, is a monumental shift away from the very socialist ideals that the club have been built on since the Shankly years. The city itself has always been seen as a staunch left-wing constituency and therefore this very suggestion from one of its more high profile sons seems rather odd to say the least. Whether Ayre’s comments are representative of a wider strategic approach driven by the club’s new American owners, who would no doubt find the existing ‘all for one and one for all’ TV deal rather alien, is one for debate. Nevertheless, his comments have caused a bit of a storm amongst his peers and have left him, the club and its owners rather isolated given the lack of vocal support for his idea from any of the other 19 Premier League clubs thus far.

Ayre, who was previously the club’s Commercial Director during the tenuous Hick/Gillette era, has an astute business brain, with considerable experience in the sports media field, built up mainly from his time overseeing various sports media operations in Asia. He also successfully negotiated the current shirt sponsorship deal with Standard Chartered Bank, which to this day is one of the most lucrative in the history of English football. 
There can be no doubt that Ayre has a valid point in saying that many of the overseas followers of the English Premier League, particularly in regions of the world such as the far-east, have a principal interest in the Premier League’s elite few such as Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea. Similarly, in Spain, despite the apparent high level of technical ability shown by many of the players within La Liga, if Real Madrid or Barcelona are not playing, watching it becomes something of a turn off.  Hence the reason why those two clubs have been able to successfully negotiate their own independent TV rights deals, which Ayre was quick to point out. It is also true that Liverpool are a huge global brand and have not been anywhere near as successful in exploiting this as their rivals and near neighbours in the red half of Manchester. The new UEFA financial fair play directive will also change the landscape of how football clubs are managed and require creative strategies for generating sustainable revenue streams in the future.

However, the strength of the Premier League brand is surely built on the key fundamental principles of the English game, such as its high tempo football, highly charged atmospheres and passionate fans. That is something that is generated by and replicated at all stadiums and not just the elite few. Also, this remains one of the few leagues (certainly within Europe) where the bottom placed team can beat the top of the table team over any given 90 minutes, which again sets it apart. With this in mind one suspects that Ayre is missing a crucial point. In this respect, Liverpool and all of the other so called big boys are as dependent on the ‘smaller’ clubs to keep the league and therefore their clubs as marketable and attractive as anyone else. His views seem a tad arrogant and disrespectful to the other clubs and the Premier League as a whole. They go against everything the club has stood for the past 50 years or more. It is also ironic that it was a former Liverpool Managing Director Rick Parry, who was the inaugural Premier League Chief Executive that rubber stamped the existing set-up which effectively means that at least 14 club Chairmen need to agree to any changes to the TV rights deal structure. This, one suspects, will ultimately result in any serious future proposal by Liverpool being kicked into touch.

To hear those type of noises coming from a club with Liverpool’s history and traditions for fairness is further evidence of how football in this country has become engulfed in greed and protectionism. One only hopes that Liverpool are able to fulfill their ambitions on the pitch. Ten years ago very few would have predicted that a football giant like Leeds United, having reached the semi-final of the Champions League just a year previous, would have slid into the abyss of the third tier of English football. Should Liverpool find themselves in such an unfortunate position one day in the future, then one will look back on Ayre’s comments and be forgiven for saying ‘you should have been more careful what you wished for mate.'

Tags: Liverpool

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Sorry mate but I completely disagree. To suggest Liverpool are not a global brand is ridiculous. We may not have won the league for over 20 years but I think you've forgotten that we were European champions six years ago and reached the final again two years later. We are still England's most successful team in Europe with five European cups compared to United's three. Are you seriously suggesting that doesn't mean anything across the world? When United went 26 years without winning the league between 1969 and 1993 no-one in their right mind would have suggested they were not a global brand. One thing money cannot buy is history and heritage, which is something we are rich in. Chelsea do not even come close. They are still striving to create what we have enjoyed for decades. To a lesser extent the same goes for Arsenal. Neither of them can claim a European cup on their cv and without it you cannot be considered in that elite bracket. Not in that bracket that the likes of AC Milan, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Man Utd and yes Liverpool are in.
Ignore Red_Indian pal, he is the resident WUM and a poor one at that.
No friend I think you are wrong here. Liverpool are the second biggest club in England no doubt about that but over here we are talking about Liverpool as a global brand. Yes you guys won the CL in 2005. Well done. But so did Porto the year before. Do you want to say that Porto are one of the elite clubs in Europe?
Do not forget that Liverpool haven't won the Premier League.
Football as a sport only started becoming popular after 1990 and onwards in Asia and US and from then onwards you haven't won anything of note apart from the odd cup here and there.
Believe me I am here in Asia and travel a lot to the US and I can assure you that Liverpool aren't such a big brand as you think. Yes you are a big club but not a very popular one outside Europe.
Even Notts Forest won the European cup but can you say that they are bigger or for the matter more popular than Arsenal?
Yes I loathe Chelsea as a club and they do not have a rich history to be proud of but they are bigger brand over here in Asia and US. Same goes for Arsenal.
Now I do not want to comment on their nature of support for ex Chelsea fans are gloryhunters etc but Chelsea have attracted a lot of fans outside Europe because of their money. Before 2004 you could hardly see anybody wearing a blue top here and now there are lots of Chelsea fans who got attracted to their success on the pitch.
No friend. Its you who's wrong. Stating that Liverpool haven't won anything of note since 1990 apart from the odd cup really is a stupid statement. Liverpool have won everything there is to win in that time apart from the league.

3 league cups,3 fa cups,one Uefa cup ,one European cup,one European super cup. By Liverpools standards that represents failure over a 20 year period granted. But that's because of the standards which Liverpool set before that,and the standard Man utd had to match. To suggest that Liverpool are not a world brand is utter nonsense. Chelsea leave flags on seats to try to generate an atmosphere for Christ sake. Have you every been to Anfield on a European night????? It's a sight to behold and an atmosphere un matched in England at least.

40,000 people turned up to watch a Liverpool training session in Malasia this summer. That tells you the size of LFC. Don't take your facts from silly little serveys that say that Chelsea and Arsenal Have more world wide support that Liverpool. Look at the facts, and put you European pedigree on the table. Oh ,sorry,you don't have any do you.

The biggest clubs in England in world terms are Man utd and Liverpool ,by a country mile.

Football has changed a lot and with Man City and their millions we need a new way to compete. This may not be best for the Premier League but is it best for Liverpool? If that answer is yes, should we be so selfish?


I'm not sure and I'm certainly no expert on these matters but I don't see a problem for Liverpool FC just a problem for the Premier League.

the original question relied on socialist guilt through a dead legend for everyone to say no.  A bit like the 'what would Jesus say' over the occupy london stock exchange protesters, Like Shankly, Jesus would've been shouting loud and proud about any injustice or inequality long before we ever reached this point.



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