Ayre: No pressure on Gerrard

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Published: Thursday 4th December 2014 by The News Editor

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Chief executive Ian Ayre believes Steven Gerrard’s iconic status means he will always be part of Liverpool but the club want him to remain involved for the long term.

The 34-year-old captain is currently deliberating over the offer of a new contract to extend his stay beyond this summer when his current deal runs out.

However, because the former England international has not immediately agreed to the offer, speculation has begun about whether he will still be at Anfield come next season.

Ayre insists the club want him to remain and he expects the player’s legacy to live on.

“We have a fantastic dialogue with Steven and his representatives,” said the Reds chief executive, speaking at an event to announce the £100million redevelopment of Anfield’s Main Stand will begin on Monday.

“We have made an offer to Steven and we have to be respectful to him and where he is in his career. There is no pressure from our side.

“The one thing I can say is he will always be a part of this football club whatever his decision.

“He is an iconic part of this football club and we want to see him here for many years – and that is not just about his playing career.

“He has been a fantastic servant to this football club and we don’t expect that to change.

“If you ask Steven Gerrard he will say he wants to be here as long as he can.”

While Ayre remains hopeful Gerrard will still be around to see the opening of the new stand with its 8,500 extra seats in the 2016-17 season, he stressed the expenditure on the infrastructure would not impact on manager Brendan Rodgers’ spending plans in the future.

The cost of the redevelopment has been funded internally by owners Fenway Sports Group in the form of a loan which will be paid back over five years.

Ayre also expects new sponsorship opportunities to be generated by the stand with the possibility of naming rights for all or parts of the stand likely.

And while crippling debt under the previous regime of Tom Hicks and George Gillett took the club to the brink of administration, there will be no impact on squad strengthening.

“The funding has been put in place by the owners, we haven’t gone outside, and it will come in as a loan and that is great news because it minimises the cost and allows us to move very quickly,” he added.

“It is an effective way rather than going to a bank and paying escalating interest prices.

“It shouldn’t affect squad development as we built this economic model on the basis it was important to find a solution where we could maintain our level of investment throughout the build.

“It can only improve once the construction is finished and the money is paid (off) then it is additional revenue so it is additional revenues to invest in the team.

“It shouldn’t have any negative effect on investment in the football team.

“That is why we do this. We obviously want more of our fans to come through the door each week but we want to compete at the highest level with our biggest competitors.

“They have a bigger capacity and therefore bigger revenue so can invest bigger amounts so this is one of the final pieces in the jigsaw for us.”

There have been protests at Anfield over ticket prices in recent weeks but Ayre insisted the new development would allow for a greater spread of prices.

“We have said all along we recognise there needs to be some affordable pricing and tickets in the stadium – that is the case today and maybe there can be more of that,” he added.

“It is about finding the right balance as transfer fees and wages are going up.”

Ayre also confirmed the Hillsborough Memorial would be placed into storage and a temporary feature installed at the stadium until construction is completed.

Published: Thursday 4th December 2014 by The News Editor

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