Club’s chief executives reflect on a season of success

A joining of the city’s two football clubs brought the crowds to the third Liverpool Business Week event.

Frank McKenna, DIB Chief Executive

It was standing room only after more than 150 people packed into the Hard Day’s Night Hotel to listen to the chief executives of both Liverpool and Everton football clubs.

The event, organised by Downtown Liverpool In Business (DLIB) as part of the International Festival of Business taking place in the city at the moment, saw panelists Ian Ayre, Liverpool CEO and Robert Elstone, Everton CEO, discuss the business of football, grassroots development and last season highlights. Chaired by DLIB Chief Executive, Frank McKenna, the top bosses even revealed the key fixtures of the next season as they were announced at 9am.

Topics for discussion included Liverpool’s new stadium plans; managers past and present; the business of football and media impact; and the future of grass roots football, including the question of Premier League sides having B teams in lower leagues.

Robert Elstone said:

“I’m very passionate about grass roots football and Everton has invested a lot in developing this with junior teams. What we have below the first team is not intense enough for player development, but football is about dreams and I don’t think clubs in lower leagues should be made to feel like they are making up the numbers against a premier league B side.”

Elstone went onto say that one of his highlights of last season was seeing young players come to fruition, such as John Stones and Ross Barkley. “Watching John Stones – a Barnsley lad like me – chip the Juventus keeper in a pre-season penalty shoot-out, thinking ‘did he really just do that?’ And when I watch Ross Barkley I can’t help smiling. Seeing young players reach their potential was my highlight.”

Ian Ayre praised Liverpool boss Brendan Rogers not only for taking the team to the brink of the Premier League title last season, but for “understanding the DNA of the club and the city”.

He went onto say:

“People think the job of the manager is just about getting the team to play – that’s the biggest part – but for big clubs like Liverpool, Everton and Manchester United, you have to get it all right. Brendan works with us whether that’s for football, business or the club. In a business with 700-plus staff, we need a manager to be able to do that.”

Ayre talked about the planning application for the Anfield Stadium extension being submitted and the importance of looking at it from a business perspective as well as sustainability and economic development.

His highlights from last season included the goal-scoring prowess of Luis Suarez, as well as how he conducted himself off the field, and seeing fans line the streets around the ground at home games.

Frank McKenna (pictured), DLIB Chief Executive, said:

“Our Liverpool Business Week has gone fantastically well and it was great to bring together the chief executives of our city’s two great clubs for an excellent event. Their insight and views not only on football but on sport business, was fantastic to listen to. The economic impact sport, and football particularly in our city, has is phenomenal, so it was a real privilege to hear the views of two top sports minds first hand.

“Brand Liverpool is very strong internationally and our football clubs play a major part in that, so I’m delighted we were able to host such a popular event as part of Liverpool Business Week and the International Festival of Business.”

The event was the third of four open forums taking place this week. Yesterday’s popular discussion on property and investment at Bruntwood’s Cotton Exchange heard people debating the importance of regeneration projects and encouraging enterprise within existing businesses.

The event panel, led by Frank McKenna, included Colin Sinclair, director of property marketing at Bruntwood; Helen White, chair of Knowsley Housing Trust; senior partner at Deloitte, Sean Beech; and enterprise director at Plus Dane Group Erica Rushton.

Helen White said:

“It is important that we utilise regeneration projects to help build the communities outside the city centre that are currently falling behind. Events such as IFB and Liverpool Business Week are creating a very exciting time to be in the city so I think our main focus now should be predicting and understanding the challenges we may face as a city and preparing to face them in the correct way.”

Downtown Liverpool in Business hosts a number of regular events, to find out more or get involved, visit


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