Rick Parry, who has announced he will stand down as Liverpool chief executive at the end of the season, knew his future at Anfield was only secure for as long as he maintained the support of Liverpool co-owner George Gillett. Gillett’s business partner at Anfield, Tom Hicks, has long been unhappy with the lack of dynamism he has perceived in Parry.
Gilllett and Parry have formed one power base at Anfield, while Hicks has allied himself with manager Rafael Benitez but the vexed issue of Benitez’s new contract may have been a factor in Parry being forced out. Neither Hicks nor Gillett were willing to accede to Benitez’s demands for total control over transfer policy, insisting that a chief executive be in place to report to them. That could not have been Parry, whose relationship with Benitez has been unworkable, so the way to retain Benitez’s services and maintain a corporate structure satisfactory to the owners was to replace the chief executive.
Parry, who was the chief executive of the Premier League before taking over the same position at Liverpool 11 years ago, had also become deeply frustrated by the working environment he had found himself in at Anfield. It was he who was instrumental to Hicks and Gillett buying the club instead of Dubai International Capital and he took a £500,000 bonus for doing so.
But it proved to be arguably the biggest mistake of his career. Hicks became disenchanted with him and so, too, Benitez when Hicks revealed that Parry had been present at a meeting in which Jurgen Klinsmann was approached by the co-owners about taking over from the Spaniard in November 2007.
Hicks has effectively set up a shadow board, led by commercial director Ian Ayre and Steve Nash, who work away from Anfield in a Liverpool city centre office. Parry was asked to resign by Hicks last April in a move he branded "offensive" and he has no involvement in Hicks and Gillett’s discussions with a prospective Kuwaiti buyer for Liverpool, last July, nor in the recent pursuit of new investment for the club with the Kuwaitis. Discussions with Tottenham Hotspur over the sale of Robbie Keane back the club on the evening after Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Chelsea also appeared to have been conducted without his knowledge.
Though Benitez appears to have won his battle to see Parry leave, there is no suggestion that the club’s internecine strife will now end. Gillett does not seem to be any nearer finding a new buyer for his 50 per cent shares and his relationship with Benitez is not good.
Details of Parry’s severance, when he leaves at the end of the season, are yet to become clear but he should not find work difficult to find. He was sounded out about a role in England’s 2018 World Cup bid earlier this season.
In a statement released by Liverpool, Parry, 54, said: "I have had 12 very exciting years at Liverpool and am extremely proud of what has been achieved by the club over that period. The victory in Madrid was a wonderful reminder of the many high points we have experienced and adds to the moments that make Liverpool and its magnificent fans so special. It has been a privilege to serve the club and as a lifelong supporter I wish the owners, Rafa (Benitez), the players and the wonderful staff all the very best for the future. I will be leaving at the end of the season knowing that the club remains strong and with a set of supporters who deserve success in all that Liverpool does.”
Gillett thanked Parry for his “significant service to the club and the assistance he has given us since we joined Liverpool.” Parry had been “been integral to the club's success over the past decade,” he said. Hicks was less glowing, suggesting only that
Parry’s “commitment to Liverpool Football Club is epitomised by his desire to ensure that this transitional period is managed efficiently.”