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."

News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
Life & Style
life
Arts & Entertainment
Jack Gleeson as Joffrey Baratheon in Game of Thrones
tv
Arts & Entertainment
Ken Loach (left) and Mike Leigh who will be going head to head for one of cinema's most coveted prizes at this year's Cannes Film Festival
filmKen Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
Ian Anderson, the leader of British rock band Jethro Tull, (right) and British guitar player Martin Barre (left) perform on stage
musicJethro Tull frontman leads ‘prog rock’ revival
Sport
Gareth Bale dribbled from inside his own half and finished calmly late in the final to hand Real a 2-1 win at the Mestalla in Valencia
sport
Arts & Entertainment
Who laughs lass: Jenny Collier on stage
comedy... writes Jenny Collier, the comedian whose recent show was cancelled because there were 'too many women' on the bill
News
House proud: keeping up with the Joneses now extends to children's playhouses
newsLuxury playhouses now on the market for as much as £800
News
news
Extras
indybest
News
The academic, Annamaria Testa, has set out on her website a list of 300 English words that she says Italians ought to stop using
newsAcademic speaks out against 'Italianglo' - the use of English words in Italian language
Life & Style
tech
Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvRicky Gervais on the return of 'Derek' – and why he still ignores his critics
Sport
Luis Suarez of Liverpool celebrates his goal
sport
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatreReview: Of Mice and Men, Longacre Theatre
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal