Ian Ayre
Ayre to step down in May 2017. Getty

Liverpool have announced chief executive officer Ian Ayre will leave the club in May 2017 when his current contract expires. Ayre became part of the Reds' board in 2008, having previously joined the club a commercial director two years earlier. The Premier League giants had been keen to tie the 52-year-old down to a new contract, but failed to convince him to extend his stay at Anfield.

A statement from owner John W. Henry, chairman Tom Werner and president Mike Gordon said: "Ian advised us of his intention to step down as CEO a few months ago. 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 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."

Ayre has been credited with helping stabilise the club after Fenway Sports Group completed their takeover in 2010.

He said: "If becoming chief executive of Liverpool football club was the greatest honour of my professional life, then deciding to step down at the end of my current contract is by far the most difficult.

"Having the privilege to lead this great club comes with huge responsibility and challenge but one which I have relished and I feel proud of my achievements in the role. I believe the end of next season is the right time to pass the CEO baton on to a new person, who will take on the challenges and opportunities with a fresh enthusiasm and vigour."