Liverpool’s season of boardroom turmoil took another astonishing turn today when co-owner Tom Hicks asked for the resignation of chief executive Rick Parry.
It is believed that a letter arrived at Anfield today – just 48 hours after Liverpool’s triumphant passage into the Champions League semi-finals – demanding Parry’s departure.
Parry is currently in London at a Premier League meeting but he has been made aware of the communication and is expected to refuse to quit by return of post.
This shock move from the Dallas-based co-owner is just another twist in the embarrassing saga over control of the club, which reached a peak last month when talks between Hicks and Dubai International Capital broke down.
Hicks was in London last week and watched both the Liverpool matches against Arsenal at the Emirates.
On Tuesday however, Hicks was back in Dallas watching his Texas Rangers’ baseball team while co-owner George Gillett was shown on TV sitting next to Parry in the Liverpool directors’ box.
They were watching boss Rafael Benitez’s team beat Arsenal 4-2 to progress into another semi-final showdown with Chelsea later this month.
This current development does nothing for the stability of the club ahead of Benitez’s attempts to reach a third European Cup final in four years.
Gillett’s son Foster was also in attendance on Tuesday, as was Hicks’ son Tom Jnr, both sons also being directors of the club.
It is also believed that Liverpool fans groups have received e-mails telling them that Hicks wants Parry out.
However, with the club ownership split 50-50 between the two Americans, Hicks would not have been able to have got sanction for Parry’s dismissal, hence the letter received at Anfield today.
Hicks was believed to have been enraged by Parry’s interview recently on BBC 'Five Live' in which the chief executive pleaded with both co-owners to end the war between them and come to an agreement that would allow the club to move forward.
It was Parry who was largely involved in bringing Gillett to the club 18 months ago, with the American bringing in Hicks for financial muscle to get the deal through.
At that point DIC believed they were on the brink of buying former chairman David Moores’ majority holding, only for the deal to collapse at the last minute when Moores – now life vice-president and still a board member – changed his mind.
Since then DIC have patiently worked towards a deal to buy out both Americans. It is believed that Gillett has agreed to sell his stake, but refuses to sell those shares to Hicks.
However, Hicks spent time last week in London trying to raise capital to buy Gillett’s shares and to re-finance loans on his own sports empire.
He will soon be expected to come up with further loans to fund the building of Liverpool’s new stadium.
The relationship between Gillett and Hicks has spectacularly broken down, with Parry at times finding himself in the middle trying to run the club effectively on a day-to-day basis.
Now Hicks’ camp clearly believe that Parry is siding with Gillett as the uproar rumbles on, which has prompted the request for his resignation.
The Gillett-Hicks feud has prompted DIC to publicly declare they will make no attempt to make a fresh bid for Liverpool until the two “sort out their problems”.
DIC chief executive Sameer Al Ansari admitted the consortium would “still love to own” Liverpool and will “continue to be interested” in the club.
But, in an interview with Arabian Business magazine, to be published this Sunday, he said: “You have two partners who do not see eye to eye. And we decided that we pull out completely.
“Let them sort out their problems.”
He added: “We will continue to be interested and would love to own the club but we are not going to put ourselves in a difficult situation where we make the investment but we have no control over the destiny of the club and we cannot influence the success of the club.
“Unfortunately, the terms that have been put on the table do not allow us to do that.”