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Tuesday, 16 January 2007

PARRY ON TAKEOVER, TRANSFERS AND TROPHIES

Jimmy Rice 15 January 2007
An announcement about the takeover of Liverpool Football Club is imminent according to Rick Parry. Speaking to BBC Five Live at the weekend, the LFC chief executive explained what it could mean for the future of the club.
Parry also spoke about Real Madrid's approach for Rafa Benitez last summer and revealed there might be more new faces at Melwood before the transfer window closes at the end of January.

Here's the interview in full:

What's your reaction to the six-goal defeat to Arsenal last week?

It was obviously disappointing to lose both of the cup games to Arsenal because at the end of the day what we want at Liverpool is silverware. But it happened and the most important thing was to pick ourselves up and get back to winning ways in the league, which we did very successfully on Saturday. The week has ended well. It was also very gratifying that the youth team beat Chelsea 2-0, so the first steps to retain the Youth Cup are going well.

Would you have hoped for a stronger team last Tuesday, bearing in mind that competition represented a realistic chance of silverware?

You have to remember that we had a very good Christmas, getting nine points out of 12, but four games in 10 days takes its toll. We've still got a lot to play for in the league plus a mouth-watering tie against Barcelona. It's always been very clear since the day we appointed Rafa, and in fact even before we appointed him, that he would use his whole squad. He has done that every year. We've had criticism before, no doubt we'll have it again. In his first season we lost 2-0 to Burnley and there was a lot of discontent but of course we went on to win the Champions League, which more than made up for it. At the end of the day Rafa never picks a team to lose a game; he always picks a team which he believes in the circumstances can win, that's what we're here for. We love to win trophies but it doesn't always work and you just have to pick yourself up.

As well as being chief executive, you're a big Liverpool fan. Do you ever look at the team on a day like last Tuesday with a fan's hat on and think, I wish it was stronger?

Not really. It hurts when we lose – it hurts us as much as any fan. We've done well in the past with weaker teams in the cup competitions. Also, this year in the Carling Cup we've lost players to injury: we lost Momo Sissoko long-term and now Luis Garcia, who's going to be out for the rest of the season.

What do you make of the suggestion that Liverpool can learn from Arsenal in terms of buying young players?

I think Rafa is impatient for success, as we all are, and at the end of the day we have spent, by any analysis, a lot of money on players. You can't do everything simultaneously – if the priority is first-team players and you have a fixed budget, then clearly the young players have to wait. I think what Rafa also said very explicitly this week is that Arsenal have been doing this for 10 years. We're two years into a project, so we have a long way to go. Arsene Wenger has been buying good young players for a long time and is starting to see the fruits of it. We are, as we all know, playing catch-up. But in the summer Rafa turned down the opportunity to go to Real Madrid, which was a big temptation for him, because he believed in the direction we are taking. We're all passionate to win trophies and the one we'd all love to win is of course the Premier League.

Do you think you should be spending more on young players?

We've signed three this week but you have to set priorities and obviously the priority is the first team. We've invested substantial sums in the first-team over the last three years. You can't do everything at once, it has to be one step at a time.

Is it likely you'll sign more players before the end of the transfer window?

We may well do, we'll have to see what the next few days bring. We're working on a few things at the moment and we'll reveal the news when we are ready. We're working hard on it.

Will anyone be sold?

I think it's unlikely because we've got a lot of games to play. We've had a couple of key injuries so it's unlikely anyone will be going out.

Can you tell us more about the offer Real made for Rafa Benitez?

Well it was fairly public at the time so it's not really a revelation. I think it was pretty serious. For Rafa it was obviously a temptation because Real Madrid is his club; he's been there as a player and a coach, so it will always be an opportunity he'd have to consider. We sat down for a few hours together and talked about the direction the club was going in. He enjoys being in Liverpool and his family enjoys being in Liverpool, and the point is, he believes in the direction we’re taking and that our mutual ambitions match.

What's the latest concerning the proposed takeover?

A huge amount of work has been going on on both sides and I imagine we'll have something concrete to say relatively soon on that.

Give us a layman's explanation of what's going on at the moment?

They're just finalising all of the legal work. They've been examining the books and satisfying themselves that everything is fine on that score. There's a lot of legal work to do, documents to be drawn up and investigation into the funding of the new stadium, which is a very important project for us. There's no lack of effort on their part.

Is it just a case of dotting the I's and crossing the T's?

It's a case of finalising the due-diligence and pulling everything together, which we hope will be done relatively quickly.

How often are you talking to them?

Over the past month or so they've had a team of people here; they've had several people working with us for a significant period. They're not with us at the moment, they're back in Dubai, but they are working around the clock. They've obviously been on a steep learning curve because football is a little different from most of their key businesses. It helps that most of the people we've been dealing with are genuinely Liverpool supporters, so they understand what we're about. They were at the FA Cup game against Arsenal, so they shared our disappointment on that one. There's always a tremendous amount of work to do on these things and it can't be rushed, we have to do things properly.

Are you 100 per cent confident the deal will go through?

It is looking positive and yes I am confident.

When they come in, will there be lots more money to buy players?

They're certainly going to help take us to the next level. They're not going to be profligate with spending, we've said all along the club will have to be run along businesslike lines. It's not going to be a rich-man's plaything. We're going to have to be sensible but their whole business model, which involves the new stadium at the centre of it, is based on success. They recognise that success on the pitch leads to success off it and that you have to invest in order to stay at the top. It's not a quick-fix, it's not about rushing out to buy players for this season or next season; it's about securing a model for long-term success.

Just a final question about David Beckham. Obviously you know about the workings of a football club; he'll be making £130 million over five years, what did you think when you heard that?

I think that sum ruled us out of the running! It's astonishing and probably more Hollywood than football, but good luck to them.

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