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."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'
tv
Extras
indybest 9 best steam generator irons
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Danish director Lars von Trier
tvEnglish-language series with 'huge' international cast set for 2016
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering