LIVERPOOL managing director Ian Ayre has dismissed as ‘nonsense’ suggestions that he felt embarrassed by Luis Suarez’s actions in the FA Cup tie at Mansfield Town.
Ayre was left baffled by a scathing attack on the Reds striker from Stags chairman John Radford.
The insurance tycoon branded Suarez a cheat after his handball prior to scoring what proved to be the decisive strike in Sunday’s third round tie.
Radford said the Uruguayan should feel ashamed, accused him of gloating with his goal celebration and claimed even ‘Liverpool’s directors felt embarrassed’.
However, Ayre insists that is untrue and has delivered a robust defence of the Reds’ top scorer.
“It’s nonsense to say that I was embarrassed,” he said.
“I spoke to their chairman after the game and we shook hands. I thanked him for their hospitality and wished them all the best of luck for the rest of the season.
“He said that our second goal was a clear handball. I said the referee didn’t think it was deliberate and had given the goal and we move on.
“I certainly didn’t give him any indication that I was embarrassed. I was the only director there so I don’t know who he is referring to.
“I was surprised when I read his comments because Mansfield’s manager and players showed a lot of dignity after the game. They spoke sense when they said these things happen in football all the time.
“It was a great game and a great occasion. Mansfield conducted themselves fantastically well both on and off the pitch.
“It’s just disappointing that the chairman has made these comments. He’s hurting at being knocked out, you can’t blame him for that, but it’s wrong to say that Luis kissing his wrist was in some way gloating over the handball. Luis does the same thing after every goal.”
Ayre believes the criticism of Suarez has been blown out of all proportion and rubbished the idea that the talented frontman should have informed referee Andre Marriner that he had handled the ball and urged him to disallow it.
“A lot has been written about it but the reality is – as we always get told – the referee’s decision is final,” Ayre added.
“I don’t know what people expected Luis to do? The ball came back at him off the keeper so fast and there is no question that it hit his hand. He did what any player would do and put it into the net.
“It’s not for Luis to say whether the handball was or wasn’t deliberate. The referee and the assistants are there to make that decision. Their decision was that the goal stood.
“There have been plenty of decisions which have gone against Luis this season. These things seem to follow Luis around and it’s unfortunate, but he has our full support. He’s a fantastic player who makes a huge contribution to the club. Knowing Luis, it won’t affect him as he’s a very strong character.”