LIVERPOOL managing director Ian Ayre admits the failure of former owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett to build a new stadium ‘set the club back several years’.

Ayre says had it not been for the huge strides made commercially during that time the finances would have been in a bigger mess than they were just before Fenway Sports Group assumed control.

“When you look at what we have done in growing the business, if we had started building a stadium in 2007 we would be in it by now,” said Ayre.

“It could have been brilliant but we have probably set ourselves back several years.”

Ayre admitted there could not be a greater difference between the previous regime and the current one.

“There was a great opportunity to maximise the value of the club and they (Hicks and Gillett) were right, it needed a new stadium and new people,” he said.

“What they got funda- mentally wrong was using leveraged finance to run the business and try to develop the business.

“Without the significant increase in revenues God knows how much of a mess we would have been in.

“What we have now is people who really understand how to own, operate and run a sports business.

“They are very honest about their objectives; they listen – that’s quite fundamental.”

The stadium issue is one which still needs resolving but Ayre said they would not repeat past mistakes.

“Nobody is going to force ourselves or the owners to make a decision until we know what’s right for the club, because that was what partly went wrong before,” he added.

“Sometimes people won’t like that it takes a long time. That’s unfortunate but it’s the way we do it. Once a week someone will ask me what is happening with the stadium and the answer is ‘we don’t know’.

“The reason we don’t know is there are still the two solutions. They are a new stadium in Stanley Park or a refurbished Anfield.”