Rick Parry on the ownership and the new stadium

Liverpool CEO Rick Parry was interviewed on the radio as planned this morning, on BBC Radio Five Live’s Sportsweek programme, and anyone hoping for some news on a resolution to the continuing ownership impasse would have been disappointed.

First of all he was asked how he felt about Liverpool’s start to the season, in which they remain unbeaten in all competitions, second only on goal difference to Chelsea at the top of the Premier League: “Yes, very pleased indeed,” he said. “Certainly in the Champions League; to be six points clear after two games is a new experience for us and one we’re delighted with.” Liverpool have never won both of their two opening group games before.

Parry pointed out that the good start shouldn’t necessarily be a surprise: “We’ve done some decent business in the transfer market, we’ve got a very good manager, a very good squad and it’s nice to be focussing on what happens on the pitch.”

Asked if Liverpool could finally make this season the one where they put a real title challenge together, Parry was cautiously optimistic: “I think we’ve been getting stronger every year. You know that we will not make rash or false predictions. It’s been a case of strengthening the squad in depth year on year; I think in the past we’ve been in the position where our best eleven has been very good, but perhaps we haven’t had the depth in the squad.

“I think we’re now in a position where we’ve got some very, very real strength when you look at the quality we have on the bench most weeks. That gives great cause for confidence given the number of names we’ve got coming up.

“It’s all about strengthening year on year and I think we’re happy that we’re stronger than we’ve been for some time.”

Added to the strength of the squad seems to be strength in confidence:  “There’s a sense of self-belief, plus a sense of determination – let’s see what happens.”

And onto the questions everyone was waiting for, and Parry was asked if anything was happening with the ownership, given that everything has been so quiet of late: “I think everyone is delighted it’s gone quiet,” he said. “The focus at Liverpool should only ever be on the football.”

Parry claims to be unaware of anything happening in terms of any change of ownership: “At this moment in time all is relatively stable, I’m not aware of anything that’s happening regarding the sale of the club at this moment in time. My focus is just on the day-to-day and making sure we deliver.”

Parry was asked if Gillett and Hicks had given up on selling the club. Hicks has still never admitted he wants to sell his stake in the club, although “Dubai” will often claim the opposite. Gillett is unable to sell up without Hicks’ blessing; it seems unlikely he’d stick around for long if Hicks offered him the green light to sell. But Parry didn’t really want to comment on any plans they have to sell, suggesting he’s keeping out of it now: “To be honest I am not sure, that’s a question best directed to them. As far as I am concerned we are just focusing on things that we can control. We are trying to do the very best in terms of producing a team that performs.”

The host of the show suggested that with the markets as they are now, the club would practically have to be given away rather than sold. Parry was taken aback: “It’s highly unlikely it would be given away! I don’t see that, it’s clearly a club that has a huge history and a great value.”

Of course the value is meaningless unless somebody has the means and the will to meet that valuation, and Parry seems to think there won’t be many who can: “How many buyers with that degree of wealth available really are out there. Who knows?”

Some observers feel that Dubai are now making out they are losing interest in buying the club as a way of persuading Hicks that he’d better accept their offer before it goes for good, but it seems odd to imagine that people involved in investing billions of pounds of money would use the rumour-mill to speed a deal along. This of course assumes the commonly-held belief is true – that Hicks really does want to sell, and is waiting to see how far he can push Dubai’s price up.

The finance is believed to have already been extended until next summer, so there really isn’t a mad rush for either owner to sell – apart from any urgency they might feel about wishing to end their working relationship. They can’t carry on forever without the new stadium, because although they can make a profit out of LFC without it, they can’t make as much as they’d like for the amount they’ve got tied up in loan guarantees.

The markets won’t be like this forever and sooner or later they’ll be able to get the money for the stadium on the terms that suit them. Ever since the stadium move was first announced, long before the Americans took over, we’ve had revised estimates of cost showing a sharp increase every few months. The turmoil in the markets means that such rises may no longer be the case, in fact by the time the club is in a position to try again for finance the costs may even have fallen.

A ground-share with Everton keeps being raised; sometimes it seems to stir up trouble, other times it’s perhaps wishful thinking on the part of Everton-supporting council members. One thing for sure is that Everton don’t have any money to put into such a project. Whereas Liverpool are looking at somehow finding the £300m to build a ground, there’s no chance at all that Everton could split that cost with Liverpool and stump up £150m. Parry was asked anyway if it was something the owners would consider: “No I don’t think so,” he replied.

He emphasised that in his view the delay was nothing more than the owners and the club waiting until the markets settled down, which he believed they would in the end, making the new ground the right move for the club: “With the financial markets in the turmoil that they are, starting any major construction project at this moment in time is difficult, and risky.

“It is a case of a delay while things settle down, it is still a very, very good long term project. The economics of it still make underlying sense.

“I do not see any change in direction or any change in the plans, and certainly ground share is not back on the agenda.

“The point is, right at this moment in time it is not the most sensible time to be borrowing huge amounts of money with the markets in turmoil. That will settle down again, the cost of money will come down, the availability of money will increase, and the underlying economics of the project still make long term sense. It’s the supply of money that’s an issue at the moment, and that will correct itself in time.”

Parry was speaking ahead of today’s 3-2 win over Manchester City, and he was asked what the general feeling was about their new ownership structure, and what it might mean: “Wait and see!” he said. “My view is let’s not leap to any conclusions either way. Clearly we’ve seen what happened with Chelsea and what they’ve been able to achieve, but it’s easy to buy players. Building a winning team is rather more challenging. But let’s not make any comments about what city are going to achieve until they’ve actually got there.”

For Parry it could just make it all the more challenging: “We can all try to anticipate and make smack judgements but it’ll be another challenge. The game is ever changing and becoming ever more difficult, but let’s wait and see.”

You can hear the interview in full here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00ds9cy/b00ds9bz/  – starting a couple of minutes in.

22 thoughts on “Rick Parry on the ownership and the new stadium”

  1. The one thing I took from Parrys interview is that he seems to be in the complete dark over what is actually going on behind the scenes with Hicks and Gilette or what the future holds for LFC.

    Parry tried to use positive spin to cover over Hicks and Gilettes latest failure to live up to their promises but I wouldn’t expect any more from the likes of Parry.

    It annoys me to think that Hicks and Gilette are now using the current worldwide financial climate to mask what has been the situation at Liverpool for almost 2 years. Hicks and Gilette have never been able to afford the club but they seem determined to let this charade just keep going and going. They will get what they deserve in the end and I just hope that somehow they end up suffering to the same extent that they have made every Liverpool fan suffer

  2. Thanks for the article Jim. Good read.

    Seems to me that Parry had nothing much to say but given our best start to the season for so many years he wanted to bask in Rafa and the team’s glory.

    What I still don’t know but would like to know is whether the owners are making a profit from LFC after the money they themselves are spending/investing? Are they actually putting money in – ie transfers – to get money back?

    The other question I’d like answering – and Gary Richardson could have got the answer if he wasn’t dancing around Parry – is when Parry says the proposed new ground is a ‘very good long term project’, what does he mean by long term? One year, two or three?

    These owners have led us a merry dance – notwithstanding the so-called ‘credit crunch’ – bout time they started to tell us what’s really happening with our club. The silence, intentionally forgetting Parry’s non-interview, is deafening!

    L.ucky for them the teams’ doing so well, inspite of them, otherwise all and sundr would be on their backs with justifiable questions.

  3. “The finance is believed to have already been extended until next summer”

    Is this speculation, wishful thinking or is it based on fact (any fact) ?? I think we should be told !!


  5. Jim,


    Are these your words or are you quoting from a source? If an extension had been agreed I would find it strange if Rick Parry was not aware of it and even stranger than he wouldn’t use Sunday’s interview to announce it.

    Of course he wouldn’t announce it if he was unaware that such an agreement had been made but it would be surprising if the CE had not been kept informed.

    Personally I feel that given the current madness in the world’s financial markets no such agreement would be made since Wachovia is subject to merger / takeover talks and appears to be in dire straits. If anything I would expect many loans would be called in especially when it’s known the borrowers have substantial assets.

    I believe Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is biding his time until the Americans are backed into a corner and have nowhere to turn. Then he will make them an offer they cannot refuse.

  6. My quote hasn’t appeared but it was your point that an extension to the loan had been agreed.

  7. Jofrad and Ray. Jim will know more than he is able to let on, take the word “believed” as you would “understands” when the bbc uses it. On some forums (RAWK) there have been certain so called insiders who have intimated this is the case and I believe Bascombe wrote an article a week or two ago. Can’t say we definitely know it is the case but apparently the clause has been triggered that allows them to extend.

    On a seprate note, I find some of the language used by Parry very deliberate, e.g:

    “At this moment in time all is relatively stable, I’m not aware of anything that’s happening regarding the sale of the club at this moment in time.”

    “At this moment in time” – used twice, in my opinion a pre-empted and calculated use of pre-determined vernacular on Rick’s part when answering an obviously foreseen question. At this moment in time – when, right now? 2 seconds ago? 5mintues ago? Whilst I don’t believe the Americans are in the process of selling for one minute, if you are in favour of the Americans selling then I would be encouraged by this delibrate use of language, more so than if he had said something along the lines of “nothing is going to happen”. He also said that things are “relatively” stable, relative to what Rick? Sounds like things have died down on that front but it is significantly different to things being 100% stable.

    As for the Sheikh, well I am deeply disappointed that he isn’t the owner of the club right now for numerous reasons. The real kicker being that for any of you with dillusions that he will come in buying the club without debt, building a stadium without debt, and investing at a massive loss in playing staff, the fact he hasn’t brought the club by now speaks volumes in that regard. Put simply, how can he be the sort of benevolent owner we all imagine when the only evidence we have regarding him and LFC is a strict desire to buy the club for the minimum outlay possible? Not a bad strategy if he intends to run as a business investment, but equally not the actions of the sort of owner a lot of us hope for and have been indoctrinated with.

    That said, it doesn’t mean he will be bad for LFC either, as with a bank account seemingly unaffected by the credit crunch, it is possible with the markets as they are he will loan us the money initially to get the stadium off the ground, before refinancing later. So we get a mutually benefiting scenario, us more in profit, Sheikh in profit, and he gets to promote Dubai a bit as well. That is what I expect anyway.

  8. Martin,
    The reason Sheikh Mohammed “hasn’t bought the club by now” is because H&G are not willing to sell at a market price.

  9. True Jofrad but that really just reaffirms my point about his intentions. As I say it’s not all bad and I don’t doubt he would be significantly better than H&G, but haggling for the best price possible aren’t the actions of someone who wants to come in and spend money like it is is going out of fashion.

    Again, we don’t really know his intentions, I may be wrong, but we should have learned by now to take things on the evidence we have, and so far the evidence suggests him not willing to spend a penny more than he has to. All the justifications given so far are really just opinion because I haven’t heard the Sheikh say a word about the whole issue.

  10. Thanks for the article Jim. I must say that silence at the moment is a good thing. With Liverpool doing so well at the moment on all fronts it could be a case of ‘freeze or we’ll break it!’ i.e. don’t upset the rhythm.

    As for the idea of the Sheikh splashing all this cash if he did come in, I for one don’t believe that would ever have been the case. He is an astute businessmen. And I would rather he come in and run a tight ship and keep us progessing instead of coming in all guns firing.

    Even if Rafa got a £100m transfer budget for next season from the Sheikh, who exactly can we buy? Our squad is already awesome, Rafa does not buy ego’s because he expects a team ethic, so our options would not need us to spend so much money. We just need tweaking, and when the time comes for the squad to be rebuilt, it should be done with patience. I still believe that teams like Chelsea and now Man City in the long term will burn the brightest but for the shortest time.

  11. Martin,

    I’m not questioning your integrity but if JIm did know that was the case with the loan extension I think he would have gone into more detail. You have to balance this with Skippy’s post in the forum saying the Sheikh WILL be buying LFC. He appears to be privvy to inside knowledge too so I treat what he says seriously.

    I just read things and then make my own mind up whilst trying to remain objective.

    As for Rick Parry’s “at this moment in time” comments I think that was just him being his usual pedantic self. He might know what Gillett wants to do but Hicks won’t tell him of course.

    I’m not expecting a sugar daddy type owner but just someone who has the funds to build our stadium and then once we have the extra capital repay that loan over a period of time that will still leave the club enough money for decent transfers each season. Once the stadium is built we can probably survive without further investment providing we have a savvy enough CE who can do good sponsorship deals and other business to raise our income to that approaching that of Manure.

    That in essence is what you’re saying anyway so I think we’re ingeneral agreement.

  12. If, by the grace of Allah, The Sheikh manages to get his hands on LFC his priority, I’m sure, will be the construction of the stadium. I’m equally sure he will not be approaching any banks to loan him the money !

  13. Ray, I know what you mean about Jim but there have been times in the past when he has made even less prominent statements only to confirm his knowledge at a later date when it has been confirmed elsewhere. It could be that he has just read comments on forums or heard a whisper too though I’ll admit, but in this case, I dont think so.

    Yeah I do agree about that. I think we have to be realistic and if we are we won’t be disappointed. I’d love the Sheikh to takeover and go, “pick any 5 players you want this year”, but it aint gonna happen.
    The picture you paint benefits us in the way we originally sought, and I would be content with that.

  14. Jofrad, None of us really know how he would finance either the purchase of LFC or the construction of the stadium. I guess that will all depend on where he falls in the balance of prestige/dubai promotion versus business investment.

    I find it highly unlikely that he will pay cash for both the club and the stadium. I hope I am wrong – this is my guess afterall. The problem is that IF he sees LFC as a fantastic way to promote Dubai – worth spending and losing hundreds of millions for, then why hasn’t he up’d the offer and got us now? If he has all the money in the world that a bit more doesn’t make any difference, why the protraction? The actions we see and the prediction given contradict each other greatly.

    I thin it is more likely the purchase of the club will be made with cash and the stadium via loan, once again my guess, no less or more valid than yours. The only point I want to highlight is that we need to take things on the evidence we are given, surely the bullshit of G&H has taught us that much?

  15. Martin,

    “I’d love the Sheikh to takeover and go, “pick any 5 players you want this year”, but it aint gonna happen.”

    Does the 5 player bit need to happen? What five players in the first team would you want to replace? At a pinch I can only think of 2 positions where the current player could be improved. Both full backs – Arbeloa and Dossena. I think the rest of the first team and a few who get rotated are great.

    The secret about stability is not making wholesale changes each season. That just takes longer for the players to gel. Add just one or two quality signings each season and you’ve got it cracked. Look 30 miles to the east and you see what I mean. Can’t bring myself to name them!

    If I was a gambing man I would avoid the stock market with one exception. Invest in tea towels! It’s the future! 😉

  16. You know what Ray I totally agree with you, but you know what I mean. I wouldn’t expect him to say, “have any two players at any cost” either.

    I agree with you on the full backs, but if we were talking having a pick of any players in the world, you would probably replace Keane too, you would also buy someone better than Kuyt. Riera looks quality, but is he the best left midfielder in the world, etc, etc.

  17. I watched the highlight’s of the game again earlier.

    It’s true that Aurelio gave the ball away quite alot and Arbeola made a bit of a mess with the first goal but to say they’re not good enough is a bit much at the moment.

    Ok our closest rivals have spent bundles of cash more than us in that position – at least Chelsea have – but I’ve seen Cole, Sagna even Evra mess-up in recent times.

    Arbeola has looked a little hesitant on one or two occasions but he’s been terrific more times than not and we shouldn’t forget his inch perfect cross for Torres’ first goal.

    I’ll take aurelio and dossena, though he’s still off the pace a little, over Riise – who sadly got a little too predicatable running only in straight – albeit powerful lines.

    Give the guys a chance. They’re all we got – with a couple of reserves to help out. And let’s see how they grow into the team……after all it wasn’t too long ago that we applauded the link play between Aurelio and Riera against Man Utd and Arbeola man-marking messi when he first arrived(and now he’s started to create chances too!!)

    I think what we want to start focussing on is when’s Rafa getting his new contract and how long will it be before Xabi scores from 40 yards again – he’s trying hard enough!

  18. MR, don’t misunderstand me, I am thrilled with the squad we have at our disposal! I think Arbeloa is a good player – certainly I have no concerns with his name on the team sheet. The Aurelio/Riera partnership and Dossena/Riera partnership look better on the left than we have had in years too. All I meant is that they could be improved if we had say 20 million to buy a replacement.

  19. I’ll go along with Martin’s comments. It was only because of the “buy five players” comment I mentioned Arbeloa and Dossena. I’d still keep Kuyt as he performs that ‘terrier’ role which no-one else can.

    I don’t think picking the world’s best players for each position would necessarily give you the world’s best team. It’s all about balance and understanding. Not just pure skill.

    And yes, this morning’s comments in the Mirror about Rafa’s contract do concern me. Perhaps Jim (here) or Skippy (on the Forum) can do a bit of digging. I am as confident as I can be that if Juventus or RM came sniffing he’d stay with us. It’s not just a case of Rafa loving the club. His family are settled here and his wife and kids would probably give him a hard time if he even suggested leaving England!

  20. With regards the finance being extended, the option is with RBS not Wachovia. I’m quite certain that the option was actually used quite some time ago.

    Assuming RBS have got the money to lend out, that they don’t need it back because of a lack of funds on their own part, then lending it to “us” isn’t a bad option. If the payments are made, they get to make some money from what they’ve lent out, which speaking simplistically is how banks make their money of course. They’ve also got guarantees behind the loan, which cover them if any payments aren’t made.

    Even allowing for good and bad years, LFC’s day-to-day business is fairly steady, and the club are also making efforts to improve on the commercial front. Despite the credit crunch, it’s still a pretty safe place to lend money to. Relatively speaking at least.

    Building a new stadium is different of course, and so RBS and others are said to have imposed terms that H&G either wouldn’t or couldn’t agree to.

    In terms of Wachovia, I think they only agreed to lend money to the owners as part of a “Master Swap Agreement”, which runs until January 2011. There’s another agreement, or option, which runs until 2037 and is 75% RBS and 25% Wachovia.

    Obviously we’re all guessing when we say what the banks will or won’t do – I doubt even the banks know how their strategies might change in the coming months.

  21. Jim: “In terms of Wachovia, I think they only agreed to lend money to the owners as part of a “Master Swap Agreement”, which runs until January 2011. There’s another agreement, or option, which runs until 2037 and is 75% RBS and 25% Wachovia.”

    Can you elaborate on that at all? Excuse my obvious naivety but I thought the agreements in place ran until this January, 6 month extension available, then they would have to refinance in what we hear in the press are repeated 18 month periods. Where does this 2011 and 2037 business come into it? Is it the period in time where interest payments alone cannot solely be met and the loan must be paid back in full?

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