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Jan 15, 2012

Ayre defends Liverpool racism stance

Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre insists any perception that Liverpool's handling of the Luis Suarez affair means they take a soft stance on racism is "totally and utterly rubbish".

• Mancini criticises Suarez approach
• MPs to hold racism inquiry
• Oldham praise Reds for racism probe

The Reds have come in for criticism in recent weeks for the way they have behaved during Luis Suarez's unsuccessful defence against allegations he racially abused Manchester United's Patrice Evra.

Liverpool's players wore T-shirts supporting Suarez before the result of last month's FA hearing had been revealed and the club's reputation has taken a battering in some quarters, particularly after Oldham Athletic defender Tom Adeyemi was allegedly racially abused by a fan at Anfield last week.

The Reds acted swiftly to investigate Adeyemi's complaint of abuse, with a man subsequently arrested, and Ayre is adamant there should never have been any doubt about Liverpool's commitment to fighting racism.

"One of the many disappointing things about recent events is that it has led some people to the perception that Liverpool Football Club's stance on racism and discrimination is not as firm as it is,'' Ayre said. "That is sad for the many fantastic people who work for this club and for our community team.''

"The players showed support for Luis which was fantastic but then some people interpreted that wrongly as the players saying they're not interested in the fight against racism. That is totally and utterly rubbish.''

On the Adeyemi issue, he added in the club's programme ahead of Stoke's visit on Saturday: "It is important to us all here that nobody is left in any doubt as to where Liverpool Football Club stand on this. Such behaviour will not be tolerated.''

In the wake of the backlash they received for their approach to Suarez's defence Ayre fully expects the Uruguay international to be the target of abuse from opposition fans.

Suarez has already served half of his eight-match ban after being found guilty of racially abusing Evra and, coincidentally, his first away match is likely to be at Old Trafford where he is likely to be afforded the most hostile of welcomes.

"It will be tough, we shouldn't kid ourselves that opposing fans are going to give him the best of times because that's the nature of football,'' Ayre told BBC Sport. "But he will get 100% support from Liverpool Football Club.

"Luis has come in for a lot of criticism but, we made a decision, Luis made a decision, not to appeal and the reason we did that was to move on. He also made a decision not to appeal the ban.

"Those things have been accepted and he is serving the penalty so we start afresh. The best way Luis can come back is to get on the pitch and score some goals and that's what everyone will expect of him.''

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