Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre is to leave his position at the end of next season.
The 52-year-old has been in his current role since 2013, having previously been managing director and commercial director in a nine-year spell at Anfield, but has decided to step down at the end of his contract in May 2017.
Ayre has often been seen as a divisive figure among fans, often bearing the brunt of criticism from those who did not see him as having the necessary experience to run a club of Liverpool’s stature, while he was also the target of much of the supporters’ anger during the recent ticket price protests.
However, owners Fenway Sports Group has been a staunch supporter of the man who helped pave the way for its buyout back in 2010 after voting against then owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett in a boardroom battle for the future of the club.
He then helped bring much-needed stability. In fact, FSG tried to persuade him to reverse his decision without success.
“Ian advised us of his intention to step down as CEO a few months ago,” said a joint statement from FSG principal owner John W Henry, chairman, Tom Werner and president Mike Gordon.
“We asked him on several occasions to take some time to reconsider his decision but have been unable to convince him to remain as CEO beyond May of 2017.
“We will at some point in the near future begin identifying and recruiting a worthy successor to continue to build on the outstanding foundations which have been laid by Ian.
“Under his leadership we have seen Liverpool transform from a club that was on the brink of bankruptcy to one which today enjoys strong financial and operational health.
“Stability is a commodity often under-valued in sporting organisations but it has been a fundamental hallmark of Ian’s time in charge.
“Liverpool will reap the benefits of his outstanding work for many years to come.”