Ian Ayre - evil

For all that Liverpool wish to promote themselves as a pillar of football, an institution which respects the history and traditions of the game, really they're just as much a bunch of rapacious capitalists as the rest of them. Anyone who remembers who it was who drove the move to create the Premier League will know this, but many – including Liverpool fans themselves – still wish to pretend that they're different from the rest. Well now they can't.

The club's managing director Ian Ayre (a scouser, so Reds can't blame it on foreign owners) has said that he wants the big English clubs to negotiate their own TV deals abroad, destroying the collective bargaining agreement that keeps the Premier League broadly competitive, and which has so far avoided the two-horse nightmare that is La Liga. Let us be the first to say that Ayre's idea is a load of twaddle.

'Is it right that the international rights are shared equally between all the clubs?' he asked rhetorically. 'What we are doing is disadvantaging ourselves against top European clubs.

'What is absolutely certain is that, with the greatest of respect to our colleagues in the Premier League, if you're a Bolton fan in Bolton, then you subscribe to Sky because you want to watch Bolton. Everyone gets that. Likewise, if you're a Liverpool fan from Liverpool, you subscribe.

'But if you're in Kuala Lumpur there isn't anyone subscribing to Astro, or ESPN, to watch Bolton, or if they are it's a very small number. Whereas the large majority are subscribing because they want to watch Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea or Arsenal.

'So is it right that the international rights are shared equally between all the clubs? Some people will say: 'Well you've got to all be in it to make it happen.' But isn't it really about where the revenue is coming from, which is the broadcaster, and isn't it really about who people want to watch on that channel? We know it is us. And others.

'At some point we definitely feel there has to be some rebalance on that, because what we are actually doing is disadvantaging ourselves against other big European clubs.'

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