Ian Ayre defends John Henry's absence from Anfield, insisting owner is committed to Liverpool

Managing director allays fears despite principal owner failing to attend a match this season

Liverpool's principal owner John Henry remains fully committed to furthering the club's progress despite his continued absence from Anfield, according to managing director Ian Ayre.

The American, the lead figure in Fenway Sports Group who bought the Merseysiders in October 2010, has yet to attend a game this season, although business partner and Reds chairman Tom Werner has been present on occasions and will be again for the visit of Norwich on Saturday.

But Ayre insisted the lack of Henry's presence to see his second major sports investment - his other being the Boston Red Sox baseball team - does not mean anything.

"I wouldn't read anything into John not being here," Ayre said.

"Two things: firstly he has had lot of work to do on the Boston Red Sox this year, they are approaching their pre-season now.

"Secondly, he also became a father again quite recently so he's likely been busy changing nappies!

"I speak to John very regularly and he's really pleased with the way things are going with the team.

"I know he keeps in contact with Brendan (Rodgers) regularly. I'm sure we will see him here soon.

"John's commitment to Liverpool isn't about him being at games. It's about him being involved and committed and being supportive.

"All that happens on a consistent basis. We get great support from both John and Tom.

"I was over in Boston recently and met with all the different investors in FSG and they are greatly supportive for what we're trying to achieve and are 100% behind us."

While results on the pitch have been mixed this season, Ayre believes progress is being made and Rodgers has always argued the addition of players in the next few transfer windows will help significantly.

Having bought Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge for £12million, Liverpool's managing director said the investment in the squad would continue.

"There's still work to do but we're certainly pleased that we're progressing," he told the Liverpool Echo.

"We will keep investing and adding to the group. Ultimately we will get to where we want to get to."

However, Ayre said new arrivals would have to accept contracts which reward them for success rather than having a huge weekly wage as the club tries to learn lessons from expensive mistakes like Alberto Aquilani and Joe Cole.

"It's a bit of a legacy we have to deal with as agents always seem to know what every player is earning and what every contract structure is," he added.

"Like any negotiation, if you give someone the opportunity to have it all their own way then they will - that's not going to be the case here.

"Our view has to be that people are rewarded for contributing towards what we achieve.

"As long as contracts are structured in that way then everyone wins.

"If a player performs then he will be rewarded. That's the philosophy of the contracts we are offering and signing."

Ayre also revealed a planning application for the £150million redevelopment of Anfield is expected to be submitted in the spring.

"A lot of work has gone on behind the scenes, particularly with the acquisition of properties and architectural work to look at designs and plans which would be submitted for planning permission," he said.

"Certainly in terms of milestones that we set ourselves, we are on track."

PA

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