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More drama as Liverpool's Parry puts in papers

LIVERPOOL chief executive Rick Parry is leaving at the end of the season in another sign of the off-field power struggles within the club.

The club announced Parry's departure yesterday without saying why he was leaving, but the move appeared to be linked to his tense relations with American co-owner Tom Hicks.

His departure increases the likelihood that manager Rafa Benitez will stay at the club. Benitez has been seeking greater control over transfers and has so far declined to sign a new contract.

Parry, 54, has been at Liverpool since 1997. His tenure reached a high point in 2005 when Liverpool won the Champions League for its fifth European Cup trophy.

The club said he agreed to stay until the end of the season to ensure a smooth transition.

"I have had 12 very exciting years at Liverpool and am extremely proud of what has been achieved by the club over that period," Parry said in a statement. "The (Champions League) victory ... was a wonderful reminder of the many high points we have experienced ...

"It has been a privilege to serve the club and as a lifelong supporter I wish the owners, Rafa, the players and the wonderful staff all the very best for the future."

Parry was caught in the middle of the strained relationship between co-owners Hicks and George Gillett Jr.

Las April, Hicks asked Parry to resign, a move Parry branded "offensive." Parry sided with Gillett, but his position has remained unstable.

"Rick's commitment to Liverpool Football Club is epitomized by his desire to ensure that this transitional period is managed efficiently and we are grateful to him for his help. He will always remain a friend of the football club," Hicks said in the club statement.

Gillett added: "I would like to thank Rick for his significant service to the club and the assistance he has given us since we joined Liverpool. He has been integral to the club's success over the past decade and leaves with our best wishes for the future."

Speculation grew earlier this week that Benitez was set to resign or be fired. British bookmakers even suspended betting on Benitez' future on Wednesday after being swamped with bets that he would go.

After yesterday's announcement of Parry's departure, the bookmakers made Benitez odds-on to still be manager next season.

Liverpool is second in the Premier League, seven points behind leader Manchester United.


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