Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool shocker

Parry a disaster: Hicks I'll buy out Gillet I'll give Rafa a new deal

By Steven Beacom

Liverpool's dirty linen was given another airing in public today when Tom Hicks branded Rick Parry's leadership as Liverpool chief executive "a disaster" and warned co-owner George Gillett that the stalemate over the club's future will continue until he agrees to sell his stake.

For a club renowned for doing their business in-house, the latest outburst from one of the main parties involved will do little to quell the anger and frustration of Liverpool fans, mystified by the embarrassing off the field problems.

Hicks has demanded Parry's resignation and vowed that his top priority if Gillett were to sell to him would be to offer Reds manager Rafael Benitez a one-year extension to his current deal.

The Texan also revealed that he plans to rid the club of all debt by heading up a group of financial backers willing to invest in the club.

Hicks blamed Parry for Liverpool's failure to compete commercially with their Premier League rivals in a Sky Sports News interview.

"Look at what's happened under Rick's leadership. It has been a disaster," claimed Hicks. "We have fallen so far behind the other leading clubs.

"We should have the stadium built three or four years ago. We have two or three major sponsors when we should have 12 or 15.

"We are not doing anything in Asia, the way that Manchester United and Barcelona are, and we have a tremendous number of fans in Asia.

"We have still got the top brand in the world of football but that's no good if you don't know how to commercialise it. Rick needs to resign from Liverpool FC. He has put his heart into it but it is time for a change.

"You have to be able to work with the manager and Rick has proved he can't do that. At the first meeting we had with Rafa he talked of the number of players he had missed out on because he (Parry) was too slow. Too many times nothing happens."

Turning to his relationship with Benitez, Hicks said: "If I were to buy George out the first thing I would do is offer Rafa a one-year extension to make sure he is going to be here up to when we get the stadium.

"Hopefully we could have some success and then extend him again.

"I think we will continue to have success. I think Rafa has unique skills, he motivates the team and we have some great players who are learning how to play with each other."

Hicks and Gillett took over the club in February 2007 but Hicks admitted their relationship has now completely broken down.

"At this point it is unworkable," he added. "We started this as friends but 50-50 is a difficult business proposition because you cannot do anything without your partner's approval.

"If George doesn't sell - because I am not going to sell - I guess we stay in this position that we are in.

"I am planning to make him a very attractive offer. If I had a majority on it (ownership of Liverpool) I could put more capital in.

"My goal is to take all the debt off the club except the working capital needed and get the permanent financing totally in place for the stadium.

"I want the finances of the club to be secure. I want to be the majority owner of a group that buys the club and I have got a 25-year track record of being a very successful investor around the world. The fans don't like the fact that we borrowed a lot of money to buy the club but I will fix that."

Hicks ruled out any chance of Dubai International Capital (DIC) taking over but admitted he had held meetings with them in the past. He also admitted it was frustrating that his unpopularity with Liverpool fans has prevented him from bringing his whole family to Anfield to watch matches.

Belfast Telegraph


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