'Comedian' Whelan hits back at Ayre after Liverpool managing director's verbal broadside
21:51 GMT, 5 June 2012
Wigan chairman Dave Whelan hit back at Ian Ayre after the Liverpool managing director branded him a ‘comedian’.
Ayre is unhappy over comments made by Whelan during Liverpool’s search for a new manager – which included an approach for Wigan boss Roberto Martinez – and accused the 75-year-old millionaire of creating ‘a sideshow’ before Brendan Rodgers was given the job last week.
Whelan was at pains to avoid an unseemly public row with Liverpool but could not resist a dig at Ayre who caused controversy in October when he said that the Premier League’s top clubs should be allowed to negotiate their own foreign TV contracts at the end of the current 1.4billion deal which is shared between all 20 top-flight teams.
Difference of opinion: Ian Ayre (left) and Dave Whelan
The proposals upset clubs like Wigan
and Whelan issued a sarcastic response to Ayre’s latest comments last
night, saying: ‘Isn’t he the lad who suggested that the top six should
keep the money from the Premier League deal and the rest of us should
‘He’s clearly a knowledgeable person on football and I wish him good luck with his new manager.
‘It’s not worth getting involved in.
That’s football. Liverpool are happy and I’m delighted we’ve kept
Roberto. Brendan Rodgers is a great appointment and I wish them all the
Whelan annoyed Liverpool with a series
of interviews in which he claimed that Martinez had been offered the
job at Anfield after he gave them permission to speak with his Spanish
Ayre dismissed that as ‘patently not
true’ yesterday having insisted following Rodgers’ appointment that he
was the number one choice.
He said: ‘It’s disappointing that Dave
Whelan felt the need to run the kind of sideshow he conducted via Sky
Sports News and various other media outlets.
‘To be honest, I always thought John
Bishop was the biggest comedian in the north west but Dave Whelan seems
to have taken that mantle over the last couple of weeks.
Hot seat: Brendan Rodgers beat Roberto Martinez to the Anfield job
‘We make no secret of the fact we spoke with Roberto Martinez, but that is all we did.
‘He’s a great guy and I can't speak highly enough of his professionalism and conduct.
‘But for his chairman to make suggestions that just aren’t true is disappointing to say the least.
‘We can say with absolute certainty that the only person who was made any offer by Liverpool Football Club is Brendan Rodgers.’
However, Whelan maintains that
Martinez was at the forefront of Liverpool’s thoughts after the Wigan
manager met with American owner John Henry in Miami.
He believes Martinez was put off by the fact that he would not have had complete control over football affairs at Anfield.
‘They interviewed him first,’ added
Whelan. ‘They asked my permission to speak to Roberto and I gave it. It
seems very strange to interview someone and then dismiss him.’