6 May 2011
Liverpool’s 2009-10 annual figures show a loss of £20m, largely due to interest payments under regime of former owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett. The full accounts are available now from Companies House.
In an interview linked to the release of the numbers, the club’s managing director, Ian Ayre, the man who transformed the commercial wing of Liverpool since being hired by the previous regime, has given an interview about his work to Management Today, and it is published today on Liverpool’s website linked here.
Intriguingly, he is asked about the so-called ’39th game’, the much derided plan to stage a 39th Premier League game each season in a foreign country. On the one hand, this was a perfectly sensible business proposal that other major sports leagues such as the NFL and NBA are already pursuing to expand their fan bases. On the other, it was canned under waves of derision based on accusations of greed and selling out.
Yet with Liverpool now owned by the Fenway Sports Group, whose thinking is naturally more US-market driven than traditionally Anglocentric, it could be possible that Liverpool would back a 39th game now, and Ayre’s interview does nothing to challenge that assertion.
To quote the relevant passage of the interview:
Q: Are you a believer in the 39th game?
Ayre: I don’t know – it’s fraught with lots of issues. But somehow we have a duty to fans around the world to give them access to the product. So never say never. What was unfortunate about last time was that the idea was created as some kind of reality before it had been thought through. And whatever’s going to happen in football, it needs to have been absolutely thought through and every element considered – what’s right and proper for the fans, the club, the league, the confederation, the local markets where you’d play. It all needs to be properly considered and I don’t think last time that was the case.
This is the surest sign that Liverpool are at least open to debating the issue again.