Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Ayre plays down handshake issue

Luis Suarez refuses to shake the hand of Manchester United's Patrice Evra last season

Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre has played down the significance of the pre-match handshake between forward Luis Suarez and Manchester United's Patrice Evra this weekend.

Suarez was found guilty of racially abusing Evra during the corresponding fixture at Anfield last October and the row was further stoked by his failure to shake Evra's hand before the return match in February. Saturday's game at Anfield is already certain to be a highly emotional affair in the wake of last week's damning revelations concerning the Hillsborough disaster.

Ayre told talkSPORT: "We will be doing a handshake as there always is and, as regards to the Luis Suarez-Patrice Evra thing, I think it's just a non-story for this day. Despite what the media says, nobody has gone and told Luis Suarez what to do."

He added: "Luis is a grown-up, as I'm sure is Patrice Evra, and I think those players, like every other player on the pitch that day and everybody in the stadium, will recognise this isn't a day to talk about who is going to shake whose hand.

"This is about everybody being together for a much more important cause."

Manager Brendan Rodgers expects the clash to be remembered for the right reasons on and off the field.

Rodgers said: "There has been dialogue all week. There is respect in terms of the traditions of both clubs. We want this day to be remembered for the right reasons before the game, and the footballing reasons.

"A lot of work has been done and hopefully Sunday will pass off peacefully and well and we can talk about the tributes and football.

"It is an emotionally-charged game. I wouldn't sit here and tell Liverpool supporters how to behave. I know how they have behaved over many years has been fantastic.

"These are well-educated supporters who value humanity. I have no issues or no problems there, the message has been clear, and from Sir Alex as well, in relation to his supporters."