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
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Life and Style
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
News
i100
Life and Style
life
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

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits