From Liverpool to Nashville, Ian Ayre is building an MLS empire from the ground up

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For a city synonymous with music, this weekend could provide the inhabitants of Nashville with another opportunity to trumpet the achievements of its fledgling soccer team.

Currently a point behind the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Nashville go into the final game of the regular season with the chance of topping the USL’s Eastern Division before the annual bunfight of the play-offs.

One point behind with one game to play? Fans of the current Premier League table-toppers won’t need reminding of that particular scenario and neither does Nashville’s chief executive.

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“It’s a bit like Liverpool, isn’t it,” says Ian Ayre, the former Liverpool chief executive who is still licking his wounds after watching his beloved club miss out on a first league title since 1990 to Manchester City back in May. 

Ayre left Anfield February 2017 and took up his new post across The Pond last May. And although the biggest challenge of competing in the MLS awaits – Nashville enter the league in 2020 – the prospect of success look promising for a club that is 124 years younger than Liverpool. The age difference apart, there is plenty to remind Ayre of home.

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“Sometimes when I say that Nashville reminds me of Liverpool and home, people kind of look at me sideways,” he says. “To look at, no. But the music heritage is a big thing and cultural heritage too. It’s also the people. One thing that people in Nashville are known for in the south is their friendliness – they will talk to anyone and make you feel welcome. That’s something I grew up with in

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