This day could turn out to be one to remember for Liverpool fans, with Rick Parry asked to resign from his post as Liverpool CEO, and DIC claiming they have pulled out of their attempts to buy Liverpool FC.
DIC’s CEO, Sameer al-Ansari, said that the problems between George Gillett and Tom Hicks had played a part in their claimed decision to withdraw from attempts to take over at Anfield. In an extract from an exclusive interview with Arabian Business Magazine due out on Sunday al-Ansari said: “You have two partners who do not see eye to eye. And we decided that we pull out completely. Let them sort out their problems.
“We will continue to be interested and would love to own the club but we are not going to put ourselves in a difficult situation where we make the investment but we have no control over the destiny of the club and we cannot influence the success of the club. Unfortunately, the terms that have been put on the table do not allow us to do that.”
Although this could mean DIC feel that their maximum investment in the club would be all but eaten up by paying the price demanded by Gillett, Gillett is the only partner willing to sell. Hicks hasn’t put a serious valuation on his half of the club because he wants to buy Gillett out, take control, and stay with the club until the new stadium is built and beyond. DIC don’t want half of the club, and have no intention of making the kind of offer that would change the mind of Hicks.
Whether this decision to pull out is true, or just the latest in a long line of negotiation tactics carried out using the press remains to be seen.
But Hicks’ determination to make something special of his time at Anfield has seen him write to Rick Parry asking for him to resign.
Parry has refused, saying: “It is my intention to remain focused on the job of serving Liverpool Football Club to the best of my abilities at this very important time of our season.”
Although there are reports that Parry is siding with Gillett in the various attempts at resolving the ownership situation, this is not believed to have been given as a reason Parry should leave his post.
Parry has been at Anfield as CEO for ten years, and in that time there have been many accusations levelled at him from fans, and more that are believed to have come from current manager Rafael Benítez.
His attitude to fans in the wake of the Athens ticket fiasco caused unprecedented anger from Liverpool supporters, stunned at the attitude of the CEO to their concerns that ticket distribution seemed to suggest some tickets had not been allocated to fans. He refused to be drawn into the “numbers game”. This was but one example of where fans felt he had been dismissive towards them.
He has at least two nicknames, either Krusty or Coco, alluding to his perceived ability to make a mess of things somewhat like a clown, amongst other reasons. Prior to the arrival of the current owners Liverpool were offered a chance to buy Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo for a fairly nominal fee, but turned the offer down. The fee wasn’t a problem – it was the wages that Parry said were too steep. Yet those wages worked out at around two-thirds of what was paid to the failed French “Gem” Anthony Le Tallec.
Theo Walcott almost knocked Liverpool out of the Champions League on Tuesday night, but the Arsenal youngster was desperate to play for Liverpool before Arsenal made their interest known, and it was Parry who was blamed for allowing the chance to pass the club by. Again Liverpool could have had him for a fraction of his eventual fee, with Southampton in need of the money, but Parry was said to have refused over a relatively tiny amount of a difference in his valuation and Southampton’s.
Perhaps his indecision helped the club last summer; Florent Malouda’s decision to join Chelsea over Liverpool is believed to have been caused by Rick Parry’s lack of communication with the player. His reputation for switching his mobile phone off when major deals need to be worked on is legendary. He famously went on holiday instead of talking to Steven Gerrard about a new deal after Istanbul, the captain coming unbelievably close to joining Chelsea after being left to think the club didn’t really want him.
But Rafa is believed to have been referring to Parry last summer when he complained about a lack of action in the transfer market. The blame for this outburst later shifted to the owners, as part of the fallout from the infamous Klinsmann revelation, but in reality Rafa was frustrated that transfer deals were failing because Rick Parry was not working on them the way he should have been.
Parry announced in 2003 that Liverpool’s need for a new stadium was essential to their future hopes of competing with the likes of Manchester United. He said it would open in 2006, in good time for the 2008 Capital of Culture celebrations in the city. In 2007 it was still not open, in fact work had still not even started, and by the time the new owners came in they announced that the outdated plans had to be replaced. The “Parry Bowl” was consigned to history.
But finding investors to enable a new stadium to be built wasn’t the only way Liverpool could have made money. From being the first English club to have shirt sponsors back in the seventies Liverpool became the last top-flight club to get a website. Before long the website was renowned as a place to avoid if looking for official merchandise, with constant anger from supporters unable to buy the kit they wanted. It was much the same in the club shops. Fan frustration over tickets isn’t limited to the way the Athens ones were dished out – people have to risk their jobs by spending the whole day with the phone to their ear, hitting redial over and over until they are finally through – at which point they are then in a cue for hours on end. Sometimes they get to the end of that queue without being cut off. Excuses given for the problems with this service have never washed with fans, who are also frustrated at the length of physical queues when tickets are sold at the ticket office windows.
If those basic services are so poorly run, questions must be asked as to how much more income has been missed out on by fans the world over who want to spend anything they can on their beloved Reds. The days of kids getting their mums to sew a home-made number seven on the backs of their red t-shirts should be long gone, but have often shown signs of having to come back.
Liverpool fans themselves have helped Parry to allow the club to remain stuck in the past from a commercial point of view. The outcry when a McDonald’s “M” appeared on the side of the newly-built seated Kop showed that fans weren’t ready for anything too commercial, and many fans still grumbled about having the name of a not-too popular beer on their shirts. But these things make money, and whilst other clubs embraced it and overtook Liverpool, the Reds were left behind.
Of course Parry was always nothing more than the CEO to David Moores post as Chairman, and not all decisions will have been his alone. But his job is to do what’s best for the club, and unfortunately that isn’t any longer in line with what was best for the club ten years ago when he arrived, and it was up to him to make that clear to David Moores.
Parry was in London today with Premier League meetings to attend, and also with Javier Mascherano’s failed appeal taking place. But he will have seen the contents of the letter and will be aware of the reasons that one half of the club’s ownership wants him out.
Hicks, however, is not in a position to sack Parry because major decisions of that nature require both owners to agree. Gillett is hardly likely to agree if the claims he’s been using Parry to help him engineer a hugely profitable sale of his half to DIC are true. But the message couldn’t be clearer. Parry has no future under Hicks. And with DIC planning to install al-Ansari and Amanda Staveley if they did take the club over, it does seem his days at Anfield are numbered one way or another.