In an unusual move yesterday, Liverpool’s Chief Executive Rick Parry spoke out about a newspaper story over the weekend claiming that Liverpool’s co-owners had fallen out and no longer shared the same ideas about how to deal with their ownership of the club.
The story in the News of the World was by Chris Bascombe who recently joined the tabloid after having worked for ten years for the Liverpool Echo. He spoke of disagreements between the two owners over how each sees the best way to fund their takeover of the club. He also reported that moves to bring Javier Mascherano to the club on a permanent basis may still fail due to the fee required for the Argentinean.
Bascombe built contacts up at the club over the years he was reporting on Liverpool for the Echo, and so his story is not likely to be something he’s made up. One or more of his contacts have fed him this information, and he felt sufficiently sure of it to report it. The fact it’s come from Bascombe and not one of the usual crew of Sunday story-tellers perhaps explains why Parry felt that he had to issue a denial.
Although he didn’t say where, the Reds Chief Executive claimed he’d just been with Hicks and Gillett very recently: “I’ve just spent a couple of days with Tom and George and both of them were in good spirits working hard together on future plans for the club.”
Some of the accusations thrown at Liverpool in years gone by that have gone by without a word from the club to deny them mean this denial seems out of place, despite the author of the original story. Parry said: “I wouldn’t normally comment on these things, but on the basis of what I’ve just seen, a story in one of the Sunday papers claiming there was some sort of problem between the two couldn’t be wider of the mark. In fact, it’s absolute nonsense.”
Stories elsewhere claimed Hicks was trying to buy into AS Roma in Italy, but this was later denied by Hicks’ staff.
Whether Parry issued this denial under orders or because he genuinely knows it to be true will no doubt become apparent in the end. There have been strong rumours of the co-owners disagreeing since the Athens final. Rafa Benitez had to wait longer than he liked to be told what kind of transfer funding he was going to get – less than expected – and the feeling then was that the pair had disagreed on how much they would help Rafa improve the squad above the improvements all other teams were making this summer.
For Bascombe to lie on such an issue is pretty unlikely, especially so soon into a new job seen unnecessarily as controversial by some Liverpool fans. Perhaps his sources have exaggerated the extent of the rift between the pair, who of course won’t want such information to leak out given that it could have an impact on the value of what they’ve bought into. And getting Parry to issue this unusual denial helps to make it look like Bascombe’s making stuff up for the sake of his new job at a tabloid.
The Liverpool fans’ boycott is of The Sun. The News of the World is one of the many stable mates of The Sun, but this has never been boycotted “officially”. The boycott is against The Sun, not Rupert Murdcoch. The club actually forbid players from giving interviews to The Sun, except for example where forced to at press conferences organised by the league. Yet players are allowed to speak to the News of the World or the Times/Sunday Times. Likewise Liverpool happily use money from Sky, also owned by Murdoch. Whether or not the boycott should be extended to other Murdoch outlets is another debate – at the moment the boycott covers only The Sun.
This didn’t stop Bascombe finding people wishing AIDS upon him, or making veiled threats against him, and so it is not in his interests to stir up trouble unless it’s based on fact.
Hopefully the owners will settle their differences, without leaving the club in a crisis due to the way they seem now to be considering to deal with the debt, but Parry’s denial does not seem to add up 100%.
You can read more on Chris’s treatment by some Liverpool fans, and his views on that treatment, here.
*Apologies for the downtime on this site yesterday – our hosts had a networking issue which took them an unusually long time to resolve!