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Project Big Picture: A closer look at EFL chairman Rick Parry

Project Big Picture: A closer look at EFL chairman Rick Parry
© Reuters
Rick Parry has served as chief executive of the Premier League and Liverpool and is now chairman of the EFL.

EFL chairman Rick Parry is described by his current employer as "one of the UK's most experienced leaders in football". By that it means one of the most influential.

The 65-year-old, Liverpool born and raised, has been a mover and a shaker in English football for 30 years, having played a key role in the formation of the Premier League in 1992.

And he is now one of the driving forces behind the controversial blueprint for a new-look top flight, Project Big Picture.

Parry, who obtained a maths degree at the University of Liverpool and later qualified as a chartered accountant, was appointed as the Premier League's first chief executive in 1991.

Parry, centre, was the Premier League's first chief executive for six years until 1997
Parry, centre, was the Premier League's first chief executive for six years until 1997 (Neil Munns/PA)

He had spent several years controlling purse strings within the leisure industry and was recruited from his role as senior management consultant with accountancy firm Ernst & Young.

Parry was the brains behind the Premier League's governance structure and, in his final year in the role, brokered the biggest television deal in the history of UK sport at the time, with BSkyB and the BBC paying more than £700million for its broadcasting rights.

During six years at the Premier League's helm, Parry oversaw its development into one of the world's biggest and most popular sporting competitions.

The Premier League's first television deal, worth £214m over five years, led to major investment in new stadiums and increased attendances, which attracted some of the world's best players.

Parry, back right, and Benitez, front left, and former Liverpool chairman David Moores, front right, pose with the Champions League trophy in 2005
Parry, back right, Rafael Benitez, front left, and former Liverpool chairman David Moores, front right, pose with the Champions League trophy in 2005 (Phil Noble/PA)

Having helped revolutionise the English game, lifelong Liverpool fan Parry was appointed chief executive of his hometown club in 1997.

He was unable to deliver what the club yearned for most, the English league title, and was in the role when US businessmen George Gillett and Tom Hicks completed their ill-fated takeover in 2007.

Parry was heavily criticised at the time by a section of Liverpool fans for the club's perceived failure in the transfer market and for not publicly backing popular manager Rafael Benitez.

But during his tenure at Anfield, Liverpool won two FA Cups, two League Cups, the UEFA Cup and, in 2005, the Champions League.

Parry's popularity on the terraces waned during the end of his Anfield tenure
Parry's popularity among supporters waned towards the end of his Anfield tenure (Dave Thompson/PA)

In 2008, Parry was elected to the board of the European Club Association, which had replaced the G14, the group which represented Europe's elite clubs.

He has also undertaken a variety of football-related consultancy projects in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, Jordan, the US and Mexico.

Parry joined the Sports Betting Integrity Panel in 2009 and worked on his second UK government assignment when advising the Department of Culture, Media & Sport's select committee on its football governance review in 2011.

In 2016, he was elected to the investigatory chamber of UEFA's club licensing and financial fair play control board, having been nominated by the ECA, stepping down in October last year.

The EFL had appointed Parry as its new chairman the previous September and he was tasked with steering it through a financial crisis.

As the coronavirus pandemic pushed more clubs closer to the brink, it was only a matter of time before Parry, the master administrator and proven innovator, set about shaking things up.

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Forest Green Rovers chairman Dale Vince pictured in November 2019
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