Nashville SC

Nashville SC extends Ian Ayre as CEO

Photo from file

From Club release:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Aug. 9, 2021) – The Nashville SC ownership group, led by principal owner John Ingram, today announced the extension of Chief Executive Officer Ian Ayre’s contract through 2026. Ayre has served as CEO of the club since 2018.

“We have a great team in place right now – on and off the pitch,” said Ingram. “We have above- expectation results and a lot of momentum in the right direction, and that’s in large part because we have Ian leading the way. Our confidence in him continuing to do so at a high level is evidenced by this extension. Our success on the pitch and in the front office are absolutely linked, and Ian has been critical in building our club up to the major professional sports organization it is today. I look forward to bigger and better things ahead.”

Ayre’s contract will keep the former CEO of Liverpool Football Club and English Premier League CEO of the Year in Nashville through the 2026 FIFA World Cup™, which will be hosted in North America and for which Nashville is currently bidding to become a host city. With the recent extensions for General Manager Mike Jacobs and Head Coach Gary Smith, the Nashville SC front office will have stability for the foreseeable future.  

“It’s been a blessing so far to see what Nashville SC has become, so it’s humbling to know that I will continue to be a part of this journey for years to come,” said Ayre. “I couldn’t image a better team and city to be surrounded by, and I will always be extremely grateful for being given the opportunity to lead this club. With our stadium getting ready to welcome fans through its gates in 2022, the future couldn’t be brighter.”

During Ayre’s tenure with the club, Nashville SC overcame all sort of challenges in its inaugural season while still setting new league records and becoming the first MLS expansion side to win and advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs since the 1998 Chicago Fire. Midway into their second MLS season, the Boys in Gold are tied in third place in points in the Eastern Conference.

Off the pitch, the club continues to solidify its foundation in Nashville, as its fandom and season ticket membership, currently among the top 10 teams in MLS, continues to grow ahead of its new stadium opening in May of 2022. Following a successful launch and sellout of premium spaces such as the Premier Club and the Loge Boxes, the stadium will be at over half full capacity when general seating for 2022 goes on sale tomorrow, Aug. 10.

Under the leadership of Ayre, Nashville SC will welcome MLS Commissioner Don Garber for a series of events in Music City tomorrow. Commissioner Garber will visit the new Nashville SC Stadium in the afternoon, prior to joining Nashville SC Defender and MLS All-Star Walker Zimmerman and Lead Singer of the band Judah & the Lion and writer of Nashville SC’s official anthem I’ll Never Give Up On You Judah Akers for an exclusive Q&A session with Nashville SC Season Ticket Members moderated by the club’s Color Commentator Jamie Watson at Von Elrod’s Beer Hall & Kitchen in Germantown.

Nashville SC release

I think you’d have a hard time finding anyone in the Nashville market who thinks this is a bad move! Ayre is popular from a personal and professional perspective, and many of the key decisions he’s been involved in (albeit some with the strong guidance of ownership) have been unmitigated successes:

  • Hiring (and extension) of GM Mike Jacobs
  • Hiring (and extension) of head coach Gary Smith
  • Expanding ticket base and filling Nissan Stadium more than any early expectations
  • Sponsorship partnerships (including gameday experience stuff like the Gibson guitar riff that is rad even if most of the riffs themselves have been blah and opposing fans call it corny)
  • Being the front-facing executive of Nashville’s stadium and other facility projects, which are largely going off without a hitch (knock on wood)

That’s not to say Nashville is without missteps under his guidance (Hispanic and Latino outreach has taken major steps forward, but got off to a poor start – and the lack of Spanish-language in-stadium PA announcements is still an epic head-scratcher), but given what we see around the league, that’s essentially small potatoes.

With another five years of Ayre in charge, the question becomes whether he can be a little bit more ambitious in some regards thanks to his job security, or if we’re in line for more of the same going forward – which wouldn’t be a bad thing, of course.

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