Hicks and Gillett regime slammed
Liverpool are still suffering from the effects of Tom Hicks and George Gillett’s three-year reign as club owners, according to former chief executive Rick Parry.
The two American businessmen bought the Reds for around £220 million in February 2007, but were forced to sell to Boston-based Fenway Sports Group (FSG) in October 2010 amid mounting financial problems.
And Parry, who was chief executive at Anfield from 1997 to 2009, believes that Liverpool are still recovering from the damage done during the Hicks and Gillett regime.
“We all wish passionately that they had not owned the club,” he told BBC Radio Merseyside.
Liverpool reached the Champions League final three months after their takeover, but have not played in the competition since December 2009.
And since they were runners-up to Manchester United in 2008-09, the Reds have not finished higher than sixth in the Premier League.
Parry said: “That period of destabilisation is when we fell out of the Champions League. Once you’re in there, you’re achieving those regular revenue streams. It’s a mountain to climb when it falls away.”
Hicks and Gillett took out a loan from Royal Bank of Scotland to enable them to purchase the club, before loading that debt on to Liverpool’s holding company.
That debt grew as they struggled to repay the loan, and stood at £237 million by the time FSG, led by John W. Henry, bought the club in 2010.
Hicks and Gillett attempted to prevent the sale by taking out an injunction in Texas, but a High Court judge ruled that such a block had no legal standing in England.
Parry said: “The debt was never on the club because [previous chairman] David Moores and I blocked that. It was in the holding company, but clearly they needed to get money from the club to pay the interest so that was going to be a burden.
“Our clear understanding was that it was short-term debt while they reorganised their own finances. It was in the offer document that there would be no debt on the club, or the club would not have to bear the costs, and certainly that changed. We weren’t comfortable or happy with that.
“Their position was that the world had just hit the credit crunch and they didn’t plan it that way, but those were the circumstances that we were all faced with and we were going to have to deal with it and move on.”
Parry believes that the financial troubles under the Hicks and Gillett regime had a role in Liverpool’s decline after finishing second in the Premier League in 2009.
He said: “That’s maybe the best ever chance we’ve had to win the Premier League and that was a time where we should have been kicking on. With a few more adjustments to the squad, who knows what might have happened in the next year or two?
“You’d do a million things differently with hindsight, but that’s not an option. We all wish passionately that they hadn’t owned the club.”