Regardless of your feelings about how Liverpool’s current hierarchy, the “epic swindle” that saw Fenway Sports Group wrestle control of the Reds away from former ownership duo Tom Hicks and George Gillett is a story we never get tired of hearing — and, apparently, one that club director Ian Ayre just doesn’t get tired of telling.
“We were all crammed into this little court and somebody had managed to talk the usher into letting the fans go and watch from up top,” recalled Ayre, reminiscing on the court battle between the two sides. “Then the judge came out and said ‘I’m sorry, you’ll have to leave from there, it’s a health and safety issue’. Some Scouser up there said ‘can we appeal against that?’. That gave us some respite,” joked the Reds director. “For me personally, I was never really bothered about my job. You can always get another job. But what was going to happen to our football club? How can we actually be here?” he questioned. “It’s a club we all work at, support or both, so what are we doing at a High Court arguing about how we should run it and look after it, when it’s been around for more than 100 years.”
That, of course, was only one of the thousands of stories to come out of a deal that potentially saved Liverpool from going into administration. With the £237mil debt to Royal Bank of Scotland paid mere hours before the deadline, the new owners were installed and all was right at Anfield — well, for the most part.
“It’s hypothetical whether the club would have gone into administration but based on where we were and the circumstances at the time that was a very real threat. Certainly the bank had the power to call in the debt and at the time there wasn’t anyone ready to take it on. It’s not what anyone wanted. But in the final hours that was one of the other routes we could have gone down,” he continued, recounting FSG”s first days in charge and just how scared he was to see the club he loves suffer through such hard times. “I’ve never really wanted to dare to think where we would have got to but it didn’t look good. That was the reason why Martin, Christian and myself and others involved felt we had to find the right solution,” he said, before adding, “But we are now where we should be. We’re heading in a better direction, in a better shape and set up as a business to perform and deliver.”