Rafa warned. Parry uses BBC to dismiss transfer block stories

The answer, from Rick Parry, was “I can say that this is absolute rubbish.”

But what was the question?

The above quote was reproduced on the BBC website by Phil McNulty, the corporation’s Chief Football Writer, and having worked for the Echo in the past Rick Parry knows he can use him to help get certain messages out. For the record he’s a blue, not a Red.

The question wasn’t printed. But McNulty preceded the answer by saying Parry had “dismissed claims boss Rafael Benitez has been told he cannot do any transfer deals in January,” and spoke of reports “Liverpool’s American co-owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks had placed Benitez under a transfer embargo on moves in and out of Anfield.”

So from reading that, the existence of a “transfer embargo” is “absolute rubbish”.

It’s important we hear the wording of any questions answered by Parry at this time because he’s not exactly shown himself of late to be someone who answers questions openly and honestly. He chooses his words carefully, in a way designed to deflect readers away from the truth. We saw this is his statement on Saturday over the stadium, one which the duty write for the Liverpool fell for as meaning the fancy stadium unveiled in the summer was still to go ahead. Two days later and Parry admitted that this wasn’t actually the case after all. Continue reading Rafa warned. Parry uses BBC to dismiss transfer block stories

Stadium downgraded, or just different?

Earlier today Rick Parry told the Liverpool Echo that the club had chosen to abandon the futuristic plans for a new stadium unveiled with much hype in the summer. In that interview he even used the word “downgraded” to describe the change of plan.

The same interview was later added to the Liverpool FC website – with one subtle difference. As spotted by some Liverpool supporters, the word “downgraded” was made a little more positive, and changed to “different”.

Now who decided to do that?

Parry said “We are now considering two schemes but the stadium will be a 70,000 seater.

“The new stadium will be a significant improvement on the original plans and a slightly downgraded / different version of the new ones.

“And it will be a massive improvement on where we were 12 months ago, if not quite as dramatic as the plans unveiled in the summer.

“The single tier Kop remains fundamental to the design and we are not expecting any delays – it should be on schedule for 2011.”

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What’s in a word? Click to enlarge

Parry admits: Summer stadium plans ditched

lfc-new-stadium-010.jpgRick Parry today confirmed that Liverpool had indeed abandoned the futuristic new stadium plans unveiled back in the summer. Reports and rumours the US design commissioned by the owners had been dumped hit a peak at the weekend. This prompted a carefully-worded statement from the Liverpool Chief Executive which at first glance suggested the reports were false – but in fact confirmed indirectly that the plans had indeed been scrapped.

Today, in the wake of the clear-the-air talks between the owners, and Rafa Benitez, Parry was finally ready to start talking in a more open and transparent way. He told the Liverpool Echo: “We are now considering two schemes but the stadium will be a 70,000 seater. The new stadium will be a significant improvement on the original plans and a slightly downgraded version of the new ones.”

The stadium planned by the US owners and unveiled to much delight from Liverpool fans was always planned to ultimately hold near to 80,000 fans, but had been shown on plans as holding 60,000 fans to help with the planning permission process. The figure of 70,000 suddenly mentioned on Saturday stood out like a sore thumb. Alarm bells rang for most Reds, including those who’d assumed this was just another piece of stirring by the press in advance of a big fixture.

Parry knows that Liverpool fans will be disappointed with the dumbing-down of the plans, although fans who’d previously stood by him will be more disappointed when they realise how he’d effectively tried to mislead supporters in Saturday’s statement. It certainly casts doubt on previous statements made by the club, and confirms supporters must read between the lines and be on guard for weasel words.

Liverpool supporters were ready to accept the earlier plans until the owners produced the dramatic design in the summer. With some more honesty – and perhaps apologies for misleading supporters – Liverpool fans will no doubt come to accept these plans, which he says might not be as good as we had expected, but are still very good: “It will be a massive improvement on where we were 12 months ago, if not quite as dramatic as the plans unveiled in the summer. The single tier Kop remains fundamental to the design and we are not expecting any delays – it should be on schedule for 2011.”

Delays are what have seen the stadium spiral in price from the £70m first mentioned all those years ago. The Echo were asked to point out that the reason for ditching the plans was due to spiralling costs rather than the credit crunch in America, something the owners seem worried about having themselves associated with.

If the change of heart is due to spiralling costs, this will be acceptable to most Reds. There comes a point where the costs will be such that the increased revenue is cancelled out by loan payments, and as the costs rise there is more risk of reaching that point. In that case staying at Anfield would be better. Parry says there are no delays expected, but work should have started already, and they still – according to him – haven’t decided on which of two schemes to go for.

Reports of Gillett backing Rafa at the Legend’s Christmas party last night need to be backed up by statements on the official site confirming that this is the case. Communication problems have surrounded Parry for some time now – notably when he single-handedly came close to losing Steven Gerrard to Chelsea – it’s time they stopped.

Perhaps in light of what’s gone on in the past few weeks they’ve shelved their plans to sack Rafa too.

It’s not wrong to have a change of heart, but trying to cover it up with lies or with words intended to mislead will erode the supporter’s faith in the owners and the board to the extent that it might never be fixed again. It’s certainly going to be harder to trust anything Rick Parry says.

An anecdote was spreading last week that at the airport on the way back from Marseille, the metal detector went off as Parry passed through it. Quick as a flash a Liverpool supporter shouted, “No wonder you won’t play the numbers game Rick, that’s the lie detector test failed already!” to which various Liverpool players creased up with laughter. Parry was said not to have been amused. It may well not be true, but it acts as a further example of how much Parry has lost respect from Liverpool supporters.

This might be his last chance to earn a little bit of respect back.

Reports: Gillett talks of trust for Rafa

Liverpool co-owner George Gillett visited a Christmas party being held tonight for Liverpool legends, and spoke a little about the current situation at the club. Tore Hansen, from the respected Norwegian fansite liverpool.no, was at the party and told the Norwegian website details of a speech Gillett made at the function.

Gillett’s speech started with an apology for the press reports relating to disagreements between the owners and Rafa: “This wasn’t meant to happen,” said Gillett, “but it has happened. Now we have to concentrate on finding a common platform for future co-operation.” Continue reading Reports: Gillett talks of trust for Rafa

Reds issue a nothing statement

Liverpool FC finally released a statement tonight following their long-awaited meeting with Rafa Benitez. The statement said very little.

The club’s owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, had recently been reported as having made plans to sack manager Rafael Benitez. They did not deny this, but did confirm they wouldn’t even consider allowing any transfer negotiations to take place before they arrived in the UK this weekend. News also broke this weekend in the national press about them dumbing-down the new stadium to a rehashed version of the plans they’d ridiculed when taking the club over, news that Rick Parry tried to deflect with carefully chosen words.

What Rafa wanted out of tonight’s meeting was an explanation about why things had changed, why he was no longer allowed to negotiate transfers as far as he’d done in the past. Also no doubt he needed assurances about his own future – was the reduction in the duties he was allowed to carry out part of the plan to sack him, or was it for other reasons?

The post-meeting statement read:

“A meeting was held this evening involving Tom Hicks, George Gillett, Foster Gillett, Rick Parry and Rafa Benitez which was wide ranging and positive.

The discussions were amicable and constructive. All those present are united in their desire to bring further success to the club.”

Foster Gillett is the son of George Gillett, and is meant to be the US owners’ representative in the UK whilst they are dealing with their other money-making franchises in the US. He’s working alongside Rick Parry, but left the country for a month after the Arsenal game. It was during his absence that relationships between Rafa and those above him in the hierarchy broke down.

The statement gives very little away, and although it claims the meeting was positive it doesn’t explain from whose point of view it was positive.

Despite today’s defeat against Manchester United the vast majority of Liverpool supporters are still behind Rafael Benitez, and have spoken of boycotting the club should he be sacked for non-footballing reasons.

The owners have been looking at ways of going back on their word regarding the funding of their purchase of the club, with them now planning to put debt on the club rather than have loans secured against their own assets. They also went back on their promises to add extra money to Rafa’s transfer budget, instead making him stick to the kitty he’d have had even in if the club had been sold. It remains to be seen why they wanted to risk Liverpool losing out on transfer deals by making Rafa wait a month or more before allowing him to close those deals. It isn’t even clear yet whether the manager will get any funds for much-needed transfers in the upcoming window.

More details will no doubt emerge as each of the attendees briefs their own contacts about what was said.

Result: Liverpool 0 Manchester United 1

Barclays Premier League Result: Sunday Dec 16th 2007

Liverpool 0 Manchester United 1

Manchester United did what they did last season at Anfield and succeeded again. They sat back and let Liverpool try to beat them, making the most of the odd counter-attack, and got their lucky goal. Last season it happened with no time left on the clock, this season it was just before half-time. The goal came from a well-worked corner, Giggs passing the ball outside of the box to Rooney, who found an unmarked Tevez in the six-yard box. It was only lucky for United in that Liverpool’s normally strong defence had gone to sleep. United continued in the second half to let Liverpool keep trying to score, but Liverpool just did not look like managing to score.

Fernando Torres had an off-day, although it’s hard to tell how much of an off-day he’d have had in the second-half as he rarely got the ball. An unchanged eleven from Rafael Benitez did at times look somehow jaded and lethargic, the adrenaline rush from demolishing Marseille 4-0 in midweek clearly taking its toll. Continue reading Result: Liverpool 0 Manchester United 1

Reds v Man Utd: No change as Rafa fights for future

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez has chosen an unchanged side for one of the most important games against Manchester United in years. In real terms it should be no more important than any other league match against our rivals from down the East Lancs, but it’s become bigger than that due to the unneccessary threat Rafa is under from the club’s current owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett. After the game, either later today or early in the week, Rafa is due to meet the duo to find out the truth. Continue reading Reds v Man Utd: No change as Rafa fights for future

Parry hints at changes to stadium plans

In a carefully-worded statement issued on the official website, Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry tried to deflect criticism away from the owners regarding their latest piece of backtracking.

When the owners took over at Anfield the plans for the new stadium consisted of a 60,000-seater bowl-shaped stadium, similar to most other stadia built in recent years. These plans were seven years old, designed at a time when the cost to build would have been something like £70m. Costs increased dramatically as the club dithered over possible takeover candidates.

Hicks and Gillett did not like the plans – they didn’t like the look of the stadium and they didn’t like the proposed capacity. So they decided to brief architects in the US to produce something special. These plans were special, an impressive and unique stadium that would be capable of eventually holding 78,000 supporters, a figure that Rick Parry claimed it would hold from the day it opened.

These plans were introduced to the world at a high-profile briefing in August. Continue reading Parry hints at changes to stadium plans

Mascherano desperate to play for Reds

If fit, Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano will almost certainly line up against his long-term friend Carlos Tevez in the clash with Manchester United at Anfield tomorrow. The duo arrived in England at the start of last season, signing for West Ham under what later turned out to be controversial circumstances. Mascherano left West Ham in January, Tevez in the summer, in deals that had to be carefully negotiated to ensure they didn’t breach the regulations in this country.

Mascherano says that he’s not spoken about the match to his friend yet, and won’t do so until the game is over: “We are very big friends because I played with him for a long time in the national team, at Corinthians and at West Ham, so I talk with him very often. He is my friend. Obviously I want to beat him on Sunday because I play for Liverpool and he plays for Manchester United, our big rival. After the game we will talk about the football. But we will not talk before the game because I know that he will try to do his best and I will try to do my best, so we will see what happens.”

Mascherano is part of the issue Rafa Benitez has with the current owners of the club, Tom Hicks and George Gillett. Mascherano is currently on loan, a loan that runs until the end of the season, and wanted assurances about where his future lay. Although a string of clubs want to sign him, Mascherano wants to stay at Anfield if possible. But unless Liverpool can give him assurances that he can stay, he may start listening to the offers other clubs are making. He wants a settled future for his family, hopefully at Anfield, but if not he’ll go to a European side. Rafa doesn’t want to lose a player who has become so important, particularly in the wake of such a drop in form from Momo Sissoko, and so negotiated a deal to make Mascherano’s stay permanent. That was one of the deals Rick Parry is said to have complained to the Americans about, having been bypassed by Rafa in the talks. Rafa has still not had any contact with the owners since Tom Hicks rebuked him in public, and still doesn’t know if he can make any signings this January. He’s supposed to be getting the answers this weekend. Continue reading Mascherano desperate to play for Reds

Hicks to abandon symphony stage Kop plans?

Liverpool’s current owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, are said to be not only intent on sacking manager Rafael Benitez before the start of next season, but are about to announce they’ve gone back on their word regarding the new stadium.

The exciting plans for a 61,000 capacity stadium, to be possibly extended to a 78,000 capacity by the time it opened, are now looking likely to be shelved. In their place comes a slightly adapted version of the unpopular anonymous bowl design that was first revealed seven years ago. It’s said those plans have been adapted to a 70,000 seater version, which if true would require further planning permission to be applied for before building work could commence.

The new owners, it seems, are running out of money and not only want to take money away from transfers, but want to produce a stadium which won’t meet Tom Hicks’ description: “The Kop is the symphony stage and it needs to play to the rest of the hall.” The Kop will be one end of the bowl, not a unique part of a unique stadium.

It’s not long ago, August, that George Gillett was last heard speaking about the club. He’s been silent since, amid rumours of him falling out with co-owner Tom Hicks. The credit crunch seems to have hit the plans the pair had for the club, and the downgrading of their stadium plans is said to be above Rafa’s future in the agenda during their rare visit to the club this weekend. In August Gillett was enthusing about the supporters he now seems happy to disregard: “I’d never seen anything like it,” he said of the Champions League semi against Chelsea, “The noise and the energy – just amazing.” Continue reading Hicks to abandon symphony stage Kop plans?