By Richard Buxton
Liverpool will restart their search for a new managing director next week following a disastrous transfer deadline day at the club, Goal.com can reveal.
Owners Fenway Sports Group have revived their plans after Ayre was deemed culpable for Brendan Rodgers being left with only two recognised strikers when the transfer window closed on Friday night after their pursuit of Clint Dempsey fell through.
Ayre was charged with negotiating with Fulham for the striker, who had made no secret of his desire to move to Anfield and was greatly admired by the club’s American owners, but refused to match Tottenham Hotspur’s £6 million valuation which saw him move across the capital.
Rodgers was assured prior to allowing Andy Carroll to join West Ham United on a season-long loan that a deal for a replacement attacker was in place but the move for Dempsey, as well as that for Chelsea hitman Daniel Sturridge, failed to materialise.
Goal.com understands that this latest setback is the final straw for Anfield chiefs and has validated the long-standing concerns of principal owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner, the club’s senior figureheads about the Merseyside-born businessman.
The pair both harboured misgivings about appointing Ayre to oversee the day-to-day running of the club following Christian Purslow’s departure in late 2010, but were won over by his work within their commercial department, which saw him promoted in March 2011.
However, his controversial quotes on plans for Liverpool to lead a breakaway from the Premier League’s overseas television rights deal prompted strong disapproval from their peers and set in motion what soon became a season-long PR blunder last term.
At the height of Luis Suarez’s race row, Ayre sanctioned the publishing of a forthright statement on Liverpool’s official website in response to the striker being hit with an eight-game suspension for abusing Patrice Evra, which contained several inaccuracies and was widely criticised.
His refusal to intervene in the infamous t-shirt debacle which took place before Liverpool’s visit to Wigan the following night continued to plant seeds of doubt in the minds of the owners, who forced him to join Suarez and then manager Kenny Dalglish in issuing a public apology after the Uruguay international refused to shake hands with Evra ahead of a 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford.
It is currently unclear whether Ayre will be allowed to return to his original role as commercial director at Anfield, where he has been succeeded by Billy Hogan, who arrived from subsidiary Fenway Sports Management at the end of May, despite helping successfully negotiate deals for Liverpool’s array of new commercial partners this summer.