Ian Ayre has been named as the first chief executive of Nashville’s Major League Soccer (MLS) club, the expansion franchise expected to begin play in 2020.
The 55-year-old confirmed his new position on Sunday in an interview with the US news outlet, the Tennessean, and will manage all aspects of the new team.
Ayre joined English Premier League outfit Liverpool in 2007 as commercial director and as a member of the club’s board of directors, and became managing director in 2011. He was named the club’s chief executive in 2014 and left on his terms in 2017.
During his tenure with the Reds, Ayre restructured of the club's commercial, operational and on-field elements and oversaw a US$160 million stadium expansion.
Following his work at Liverpool, Ayre served as managing director at German soccer side 1860 Munich, but left after eight weeks citing ownership conflicts.
In February, Ayre was named executive chairman of the Ubiquity Group, making a personal investment in company at the time. It is unknown how his new position will affect his role with the marketing agency.
“He’s always been my number one choice, I’m just thrilled that this was attractive to him,” John Ingram, owner of the Nashville MLS team, told the Tennessean. “He’s the kind of guy, there’s a lot of other leagues and clubs that would find him incredibly attractive. I’m just glad this opportunity is one that, a bit of the entrepreneurial bug and the ability to build something from scratch, this is a rather unique opportunity. And I feel very fortunate that it was of interest to him.”
“The MLS has huge ambitions to be one of the biggest and leading leagues in the world, and is on that trajectory,” Ayre added. “Both as a soccer fan and an executive in the industry, it’s something I’ve had my eye on because it’s important.
“You talk about MLS and its growth, I think it’s becoming easier and will become easier to attract the right talent to something that’s exciting and developing. And if you have a reputation of being involved in a club like Liverpool, you hope that stands for something when you start to try and attract talent.”