In what is the first, and arguably most important signing for an Major League Soccer expansion club, Nashville MLS made a huge splash Monday in announcing the appointment of Ian Ayre as Chief Executive Officer.
Ayre, a former Chief Executive at Liverpool Football Club, was named the Premier League Chief Executive of the Year in 2017. The 55-year-old will be tasked with building and leading the Nashville MLS club, which was announced as an expansion club in December 2017.
“We are committed to bringing world-class soccer to Nashville, as evidence by the appointment of Ian as our CEO,” said Nashville MLS lead owner John Ingram, in a statement. “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 while elevating soccer in Music City and MLS.”
Ayre spent 10 years at Liverpool, where he secured a record-breaking sponsorship deal for the club and was directly responsible for all player transfer and contract negotiations. Ayre left Liverpool to take over TSV 1860 Munich, but left after just a few weeks, reportedly because of "warring factions" within the ownership group. Ayre told The Tennessean – which first reported the news Monday morning – he received calls from other "big clubs," but the uniqueness of building a club from scratch was more attractive.
“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 in a statement. “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.”