Ian Ayre experienced life in the rarified air of the English Premier League elite when he spent a decade as a Liverpool FC executive from 2007-17, first as commercial director and later as managing director.
Now he’s on a very different sort of adventure as the CEO of Nashville’s MLS expansion project, building every aspect of that organization from the ground up ahead of their 2020 debut.
The two leagues feature the same sport, but distinctly different landscapes, as Ayre reflected in an in-depth interview with respected UK publication The Sunday Times this weekend.
"You have to develop the culture, the brand, the name, the identity, where you are playing, literally everything"— Times Sport (@TimesSport) December 21, 2018
Ian Ayre, a former chief executive at #LFC, tells @_pauljoyce about the challenge of starting a #MLS team from scratch in Nashville https://t.co/SdFeykYeJm
“MLS is a very different organization to the Premier League,” Ayre told journalist Paul Joyce during a recent trip back to his homeland. “The support you get is incredible because everyone helps everyone else. It is much more collaborative, primarily because it can be. When you are one of 20 teams fighting to avoid being 18th, 19th, 20th [and getting relegated], you have a different view. It is every man for himself.
“We are trying to build a league that can compete on a global stage against other leagues, so the attitude is, ‘Let’s all work together to make it the best we can possibly be.’”
That’s only one intriguing angle from the feature, in which Ayre also discusses Nashville’s roster-building process, how the Music City compares to Liverpool and his former club’s strong start to the 2018-19 EPL campaign, where Jurgen Klopp and the Reds are currently running in first place heading into the busy festive fixtures.