Liverpool chief Ayre concedes Suarez issues harmed 'brand'
As Liverpool look to the future with Luis Suarez back from suspension, there was a reminder from the club's managing director Ian Ayre of the damage the Uruguayan's past disciplinary issues have inflicted on the club's reputation.
Suarez's indiscretions during his three-year Anfield career have kept the club's public relations officers working overtime, and Ayre admits the club 'brand' was harmed during the Patrice Evra and Branislav Ivanovic incidents.
"It doesn't matter whether it's a player incident or any incident that makes big headlines for negative reasons, it is always going to be damaging," said Ayre.
"It's not damaging in the sense that it doesn't hugely affect our commercial business. Liverpool football club has a huge tradition and any time someone steps out of line, whether it's a player or a fan, that's always going to be an issue.
"We're very much an institution and we base ourselves on family values and when your kids are naughty you tell them off and try to teach them the error of their ways, and there's no difference.
"I'm not saying Luis has been hugely damaging on the brand, but every time you have a negative issue like that particular one then of course it's damaging. But it's important to put that right and restore the integrity of the club and that's what we did."
Suarez returned for the 1-0 League Cup defeat to Manchester United, immediately showing his qualities. Ayre said the striker has been working on improving his on-field persona.
"Luis is a street fighter, a larger than life character," said Ayre. "Nobody is condoning any bad behaviour but it's something you have to deal with. He is what he is and you just have to try and harness that.
"We've worked a lot with Luis since the last incident with Ivanovic and he's responded well. He's been prepared to commit to that sort of work on his character, and you saw him back and it looks like the good bits of the old Luis – which is terrorising defenders – and we're pleased that he's back."
The South American's ham-fisted efforts to leave last summer were tame in comparison to the bans he received for using racial language to Evra and biting Ivanovic.
Ayre suggested there are no plans to discuss a new contract with the 26-year-old having retained his services. That will ensure Liverpool will continue to demand in excess of £50m should the player try to leave – as is expected – at the end of this season.
"Luis stood by the contract," Ayre said. "I don't think it was a huge piece of work by Liverpool to keep him, we just stood by the contract we signed with him a year before which was a four-year deal and said we would like him to remain with his, and he has, and that's the end of it." (© Daily Telegraph, London)