Rick Parry: 'We thought they might fire us. It has been a nightmare – a dreadful year'

Liverpool's beleaguered chief executive tells Ian Herbert that he has feared the sack ever since Hicks and Gillett took over

Liverpool's chief executive Rick Parry has revealed the "nightmare" of working under the co-ownership of Tom Hicks and said that he has been in fear of the sack for months as their relationship has deteriorated.

It was Parry's work behind the scenes last December that ensured that most of the refinanced loans taken out for the purchase of Liverpool by Hicks and George Gillett jnr were secured against the Americans' holding company, rather than the club, and Parry told The Independent yesterday that he knew from that moment that Hicks would want to remove both him and former chairman David Moores, who received £88m for selling his 51.6% stake to Hicks and who retains a seat on the board. Parry's suspicions were confirmed on Thursday when a letter arrived from Hicks, demanding he quit.

"David and I thought we would be out on our ears in December. We thought they [Hicks and Gillett] might fire us," said Parry, who is seeking legal advice over Hicks' demand. "They didn't, to be fair, though what we did has not been forgotten. It's been a nightmare throughout – a dreadful year."

Though Hicks' relationship with Parry has soured, the chief executive has established a cordial relationship with Gillett, who telephoned him to assure him of his support after the Hicks camp let details of the letter be known. The reassurance did not come immediately for Parry. He messaged Gillett to say 'have you seen this?' after one of Parry's own family saw news of Hicks' demand on Sky Sports News. Gillett – on a flight and uncontactable – had not, though Hicks had copied him in on it. It was after Gillett completed several flights that the two spoke. Parry does not intend to speak to Hicks. "I have made my position clear to him," he said.

Parry revealed that Hicks and Gillett are now planning to enter a process of arbitration to resolve the impasse over the club's ownership, in which Hicks is refusing to allow Gillett to sell to suitors Dubai International Capital (DIC). Parry admitted that the situation needed to be resolved by next month if Liverpool's plans for next season were not to be placed in serious jeopardy. "This is not fatal but if you slip into May/June [without a transfer strategy] it's more difficult," he said.

It seems increasingly unlikely that Hicks will find the money to take control at Anfield – a move which, in Parry's words, would put himself "out of the door". There is no sign of the minority investors the Texan has said he has lined up and the publicity generated by his frequent statements are understood to have made some London financiers unwilling to get involved. Merrill Lynch's New York office has recently been engaged to raise funds.

Against this backdrop, Parry said yesterday that Hicks' demand for his resignation was the desperate act of "a vindictive man" that demonstrated that, contrary to reports last Sunday that he might be 10 days away from securing control of the club, he is nowhere near. "If he is so confident he is going to buy the club in 10 days, why not just wait until then and sack me?"

A public statement of support for Parry from Gillett provided some succour for the former Premier League chief executive yesterday. As well as declaring "full support" for Parry, Gillett added: "Any decision to remove him would need the full support of the Liverpool board which, it should be remembered, consists of six people – myself , Foster [Gillett's son], David Moores, Rick himself, Tom Hicks and Tom junior. We have not seen the document in question and we were not party to it. We are not able to comment on the detail because we have not seen it."

But the depth of the damage done to the club was evident yesterday when, for the first time in his four-year career at Anfield, Rafael Benitez was forced to cancel his weekly press briefing, which would have focussed on Liverpool's triumph over Arsenal. It was the club's decision to cancel, but Benitez is understood to have been worried being drawn into the factional strife in which he had been seen as pro-Hicks and anti-Parry.

Though Parry was at first convinced that the Americans represented the way forward for Liverpool – "to them, our virtues, heritage and culture are precious assets that will help to inspire everyone connected with us to continue to strive for further success – both on and off the field," he told shareholders 14 months ago. Hicks' incongruity at the club was evident from the start.

One insider recalled yesterday the embarrassment felt when Hicks arrived at last year's Champions League tie at home to Barcelona with "a huge red scarf around his neck." He was, said the source, "a nightmare at the stadium that night."

But it is the breakdown of the relationship between Hicks and Gillett which is creating factions at the club and has done most to poison the Texan's relationship with Parry. Gillett was furious when Hicks went public about discussions with Jürgen Klinsmann about the manager's job in January – discussions which Gillett initiated but which Hicks then took over and monopolised.

The way in which the refinancing of the debt was announced in February was a significant moment in the deepening fissure between the two. Hicks insisted on a press release revealing the news while Gillett did not since he did not consider it something to be triumphal about. Gillett insisted that his name be kept off Hicks' press release. The division plumbed new depths when Gillett made a public attack on Hicks on Canadian radio last month and the view from within Anfield is that that attack was a pre-emptive strike by Gillett, ahead of Hicks' renewed pursuit of funds to buy him out.

With Parry so evidently in the Gillett camp and supportive of his attempts to sell to DIC, Hicks resolved weeks ago to remove him from the post he has held for 11 years.

Some sources suggest that Tom Hicks jnr has been informing friends in Liverpool for the past six weeks that his father's camp wants Parry out. But the catalyst seems to have been Tuesday's visit by Gillett to the city centre offices of Liverpool's commercial director Ian Ayre. Gillett, accompanied by Parry, reminded Ayre that he is employed by both, not just Hicks. Ayre, seen as a possible successor to Parry when hired, reportedly assisted Hicks in London last week as he tried to raise cash to help fund a buy-out of Gillett.

As the fracturing of his troubled club went on, Benitez delivered his thoughts on tomorrow's visitors Blackburn – a game vital to his side's ambitions to claim fourth spot ahead of Everton – to a club employee, who posted them on the website. "[Blackburn] are a tough team to play against because physically they are aggressive, they are well organised and it has been difficult against them in the past, but maybe this time it will be different."

Property
pets
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Sport
football
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
News
news
News
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living