Friday 20 October 2017

Ian Ayre: Suarez has damaged Liverpool's brand with his racist abuse and biting

Luis Suarez made his Liverpool comeback against Manchester United on Wednesday night
Luis Suarez made his Liverpool comeback against Manchester United on Wednesday night
Liverpool's Luis Suarez (left) and Manchester United's Jonny Evans (right) battle for the ball during the Capital One Cup, Third round match at Old Trafford, Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
Liverpool's Luis Suarez (left) and Manchester United's Phil Jones battle for the ball during the Capital One Cup, Third round match at Old Trafford, Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday September 25, 2013. See PA story SOCCER Man Utd. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. Maximum 45 images during a match. No video emulation or promotion as 'live'. No use in games, competitions, merchandise, betting or single club/player servies. No use with unofficial audio, video, data, fixtures or club/league logos.
Liverpool's Luis Suarez during the warm up during the Capital One Cup, Third round match at Old Trafford, Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
Liverpool's Luis Suarez warms up before their English League cup soccer match against Manchester United at Old Trafford in Manchester, northern England September 25, 2013. REUTERS/Phil Noble (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)
Liverpool's Luis Suarez during the warm up during the Capital One Cup, Third round match at Old Trafford, Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 25: Nani of Manchester United competes with Luis Suarez of Liverpool during the Capital One Cup Third Round match betwen Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford on September 25, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Liverpool's Luis Suarez warms up before their English League cup soccer match against Manchester United at Old Trafford in Manchester, northern England September 25, 2013. REUTERS/Phil Noble (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)
Liverpool's Luis Suarez (R) challenges Manchester united's Chris Smalling during their English League cup soccer match against Manchester United at Old Trafford in Manchester, northern England September 25, 2013. REUTERS/Phil Noble (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)
Liverpool's Luis Suarez (L) is challenged by Manchester United's Rafael Da Silva during their English League cup soccer match at Old Trafford in Manchester, northern England September 25, 2013. REUTERS/Phil Noble (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)
Liverpool's Luis Suarez asks for the ball to be given to him quickly during the Capital One Cup, Third round match at Old Trafford, Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday September 25, 2013.
Liverpool's Luis Suarez (left) and Manchester United's Jonny Evans (right) battle for the ball during the Capital One Cup, Third round match at Old Trafford, Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday September 25, 2013. See PA story SOCCER Man Utd. Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS:
Liverpool's Luis Suarez (right) shows his frustration after a missed free kick during the Capital One Cup, Third round match at Old Trafford, Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
Liverpool's Luis Suarez (top) is challenged by Manchester United's Alexander Buttner during their English League cup soccer match at Old Trafford in Manchester, northern England September 25, 2013. REUTERS/Phil Noble (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)
Luis Suarez reacts to being tackled by Phil Jones of Manchester United at Old Trafford last night

Simon Peach

Managing director Ian Ayre believes the controversies that have dogged Luis Suarez's Liverpool career have damaged the club's brand.

The 26-year-old has never been far away from the headlines since swapping Ajax for Anfield in January 2011.

The Uruguayan forward was handed a hefty ban after being found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United left-back Patrice Evra and on Wednesday night made his first appearance after a 10-match suspension for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic.

"Of course, any types of incident of that nature are damaging to a brand, but Liverpool Football Club is way, way bigger and always will be way bigger than any one player or one individual," Ayre said at the Nolan Partners Sport Industry Breakfast Club.

"What is important at those times is to ensure that we act respectfully and professionally as a football club.

"In the past we got some of that wrong and I'd say more recently we got that right.

"Luis is a footballer, sort of a street fighter, a larger than life character and we have seen that across not just even the Premier League but across football and other sports.

"Nobody is condoning any bad behaviour, but it is just something you have to deal with.

"He is what he is, is the character he is, and we have to try and harness that."

Suarez impressed in Liverpool's 1-0 Capital One Cup loss at Manchester United - a display few had expected to see after he had appeared determined to leave during the summer.

Principal owner John Henry waded into the matter by insisting the player would not be sold at any price and in any case Ayre has been impressed by the player's positive response to matters that have impacted the club as a whole.

"We have worked a lot with Luis since the last incident with Ivanovic and he has responded well to that," he said.

"He has been prepared to commit to that sort of work on his character.

"We saw him back last night and he looks like the good bits of Luis, which is terrorising defenders and we're pleased he is back, pleased he is contributing.

"As we said all along through the summer, we expected him to remain a Liverpool player. He has remained a Liverpool player and we all move on together.

"I saw some of his comments this morning that he was there for the team and wants to help us achieve whatever we can achieve this season."

In those comments, in the aftermath of a committed performance on his return, Suarez pledged to do all he could to help Liverpool climb the table.

That was in contrast to his attitude early last month when, in the wake of a £40,000,001 bid from Arsenal - which they thought would trigger a release clause - he claimed manager Brendan Rodgers and the club had reneged on a deal to allow him to leave for a side competing in the Champions League.

"The result is not good because we lost but the feeling is good because we played very well, we created chances and we missed," he told liverpoolfc.com.

"I know it was a difficult moment but for myself and for the team it's very important I'm back because I can help the team and [being] off the pitch I can't.

"We'll keep going for the week and for the next game.

"All the time I try my best on the pitch. I'm here to help the team and help Liverpool and I'll try my best."

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