Rick Parry

3.4181141439181 (1612)
Posted by motoman 03/02/2009 @ 11:46

Tags : rick parry, soccer executives, soccer, sports

News headlines
Reds eye crucial appointment - Clubcall
Liverpool have stepped up their attempts to find a replacement for Rick Parry, with a new chief executive likely to be named in June. Parry announced towards the end of the season that he would be stepping down this summer and the Reds will be keen to...
LifeLock name to grace Phoenix Mercury jerseys - Bizjournals.com
A Monday press conference announcing the seven-figure, three-year deal is scheduled for 1 pm in New York and will be attended by LifeLock CEO Todd Davis, Mercury President and CEO Jay Parry, Phoenix Suns CEO Rick Welts, Women's National Basketball...
City start spree with rapid £12m Barry deal - Independent
Benitez is now in hands-on control of transfer dealings following the sidelining of Liverpool's outgoing chief executive, Rick Parry, who used to do that job. But Benitez went on holiday last Thursday and is still thought to be abroad....
ICE HOCKEY Northlander Parry shuts out Irish - Northern Advocate
Northland's Rick Parry put in a stellar performance with the New Zealand Ice Blacks, helping his side to a gold medal at the third division Ice Hockey World Championships recently. The final at Dunedin's ice rink was a nail-biter, with 21-year-old...
Lancaster edges Junior Legion - Zanesville Times Recorder
Ron and Zach Apperson won the net format with 58, while Mike Davis-Bill Parry were second with 59. In the Augusta Flight, Eric Frischette fired a 69 for low gross while Tyler Baughman was second with 73. Curt Purdy won low net 62 and Kyle Redfern had...
Derry reviews economic development plans - Eagle Tribune
By Eric Parry DERRY — Town councilors last night considered two projects to bring new business to town, but failed to take any action to spark economic development. The council heard from town staff on possibly creating a tax incremental finance...
Director target at meeting - Owen Sound Sun Times
How bad and how widespread they are, nobody knows," said Williams, who, along with Ross Parry, was dispatched to Bluewater to help sort out its "crisis" at the request of Education Minister Kathleen Wynne. As for the meetings, Williams called them...
Wirral author Peter Lupson celebrates football book's second print run - Wirral News
But it was Peter's work on the origins of Liverpool and Everton that prompted Reds chief executive Rick Parry to encourage him to delve further into the clubs' shared history. Peter said: “Rick Parry liked the chapter about Everton and Liverpool,...
I thought Rick Parry had the final say on all transfers? I thought Rafa only recently signed a new contract giving him full control of transfers thus ending Rick Parry's stay with Liverpool? Your headline should read 'Gareth Barry should be moving to...
Rafael Benítez prepares to fine tune Liverpool on his own terms - guardian.co.uk
Transfer fees and player contracts were previously under the domain of Rick Parry, the Liverpool chief executive, who will relinquish his post at the end of this season and may not be replaced for several months. Liverpool's owners have appointed a...

Rick Parry

Rick Parry (born on 23rd February 1955) is the current chief executive of Liverpool Football Club, and the former head of the FA Premier League.

Rick Parry was educated at Ellesmere Port Grammar School and the University of Liverpool. Upon obtaining his degree, he joined Arthur Young McClelland Moores in Liverpool as a trainee Chartered Accountant in 1976, qualifying three years later. Having spent a number of years in the leisure industry in financial controller positions, he rejoined his former firm (by then known as Arthur Young) in 1983 as a management consultant.

An unashamed Liverpool fan, Parry was recruited from his position as a senior management consultant with leading UK firm Ernst & Young in 1991 to assist in planning the new Premier League. Appointed Chief Executive in February 1992, the competition was officially ratified just seven days later by The Football Association, allowing Parry to proceed with negotiations for a television deal which was eventually awarded to BSkyB and the BBC for a then record bid of £214 million over five years.

As Chief Executive, Parry oversaw the development of The Premier League into one of the top professional football competitions in the world, with major investment in new stadia, increased attendances and an influx of major international stars. During his last twelve months at Lancaster Gate he brokered the biggest ever television deal in the history of UK sport, with BSkyB and the BBC offering a package in excess of £700m for Premier League broadcasting rights.

Parry's experience is not confined solely to football, having prepared Manchester's bid for the 1992 Olympic Games in 1985 and later advised the Birmingham Olympic Games Council on financial matters. In the following year, he spent six months on a major assignment for The Football League before assuming the role of Chief Executive to the Manchester Phoenix Initiative, a major urban regeneration project which culminated in the establishment of the Central Manchester Development Corporation.

When Manchester secured the British nomination to bid for the 1996 Olympic Games, Parry was seconded to the bid committee for two and a half years as full-time Director supervising, amongst other responsibilities, the planning of a £750 million Olympic Centre.

Parry was appointed as chief executive at Liverpool in July 1998, by then chairman David Moores. He signed a six year deal reported to be worth over £500,000 per year.

On 18th June 2007, Parry was called to give evidence to the arbitration panel investigating the validity of an earlier tribunal decision regarding West Ham United's signing of Argentinian Internationals Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano. As Chief Executive of the Premier League, he was involved in the establishment of the Premier League rules and as Chief Executive of Liverpool is believed to have voiced concerns over the registration in January when attempting to sign Mascherano on a loan deal.

In the fallout of the Liverpool FC takeover by the American consortium run by Hicks and Gillett, Parry's role as CEO has been questioned by some sections of Liverpool support who consider that the club is not aggressive enough in the transfer market nor transparent enough in its support of the manager Rafa Benitez (even though Parry played a pivotal role employing Benitez as Liverpool manager). As fans' high expectations for success continue to fail to be realised, his role at the club will likely also continue to be under close scrutiny.

On 25 February 2009 it was announced that he would be leaving Liverpool Football Club at the end of the 2008-9 season.

Rick is married to Aubery and they have two sons: Ryan and Dwight. He is a member of Tierack's exclusive "TieClub". Is married to Cate and they have three sons; James, Tom and Jonny.

To the top

Game 39

The proposal envisages one round of ten matches being played over one weekend in January. Two matches would be played in each of five cities, one each on Saturday and Sunday. Cities would bid for the right to stage matches, but would not be able to specify which teams are involved. The matches would be held at staggered start times, with venues in different timezones, making it possible in theory to watch live television coverage of all ten. There are conflicting reports about whether the draw for the extra fixtures would be seeded or not.

The week prior to the international round would be free of matches, to allow for travel and acclimatisation. The week after the international round would see each team face one of the teams which had played at the same foreign venue, to avoid any disadvantage for teams with a longer round-trip.

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore initially said there would not be more than one international round per season, stating "I stress that on my watch, there will be no 40th game. The value is in its uniqueness, in that festival weekend, so there's no point in diluting it." Subsequently he suggested the initial plan would last six to ten years and might be altered.

Possible venues suggested for international-round matches are Australia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, the Gulf States, and North America. All are wealthy regions where interest in English football is strong relative to the level of the domestic game. Venues would have warm, predictable weather, unlike England in January.

Foreshadowing the plan were the friendly match played by the England team against Argentina in Geneva in Switzerland in 2005, and the NFL American football game played at Wembley Stadium in London in 2007. Rod Eddington pitched the idea of an international round to the Premier League in autumn 2007. He is chairman of Victorian Major Events Company and a friend of Rupert Murdoch, owner of Sky Sports and other networks with broadcasting rights to the Premier League. He suggested his home city of Melbourne as an inaugural host city. A presentation to the Premier League's audit-and-remuneration committee was made two weeks before the public announcement. An initial business plan predicts extra earnings from the international round of between £40 million and £80 million per year.

The Premier League has put in place a working party to negotiate with the various concerned parties. It initially stated that, to proceed with the plan, it needed the support only of the Football Association (FA) and the football governing bodies of the countries of the host cities. It attempted to secure the support of the FA for the proposal by promising to rearrange club fixtures for better convenience to players called up to the England team. Scudamore planned to meet FIFA officials before its executive committee meeting in Zurich on March 14 2008. On 27 February, after several weeks of mostly negative reaction, Scudamore agreed with Jérôme Valcke, general secretary of FIFA, that the meeting would be postponed indefinitely. The Premier League presented this as an opportunity to rethink its proposals, and said that it would not proceed without FIFA approval.

In May 2008, Scudamore told BBC Radio 5 Live that the proposal was "not over" but that the League would "come up with something that ticks more boxes" by January 2009.

Richard Scudamore has defended the plan as consolidating the Premier League's global reputation, saying "if we didn't do it, another sport will come and do it to us." Scudamore has said that the chairmen of all 20 Premier League clubs support the proposal, and disputed claims by the Daily Mail that Randy Lerner of Aston Villa and Dave Whelan of Wigan Athletic were opposed. David Gold of Birmingham City endorsed the plan in part because the larger clubs have in any case already been exploiting foreign markets, with tours pre-season and even mid-season; Game 39 would distribute its revenue among all the clubs. On February 15, Liverpool F.C. chief executive Rick Parry stated the proposal had "never been on Liverpool's club agenda" and acknowledged the concern of the club's fans and manager. The Football Supporters' Federation (FSF) condemned the proposal as being motivated by money, and dubbed it Gam£ 39. It launched a petition, with the support of the Daily Mail, to oppose the "outrageous desecration of the national game". In March 2008, the campaign was ended as the FSF declared the proposal "effectively dead". Many die-hard fans who pride themselves on travelling to all their teams' away matches will be unable to travel abroad for "Game 39". On the other hand, exotic foreign venues may be more appealing destinations for fans than a mundane English city. Managers of Premier League clubs reported to be opposed to or sceptical of the plans include Steve Bruce, Roy Hodgson, Gareth Southgate, and Rafael Benítez. Alex Ferguson criticised the club owners for lack of consultation with managers. Arsene Wenger, Roy Keane, Kevin Keegan, and Avram Grant have supported the proposal.

Andy Burnham, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, cautioned that football should "not forget its roots". Gordon Taylor of the Professional Footballers' Association expressed concern about increased pressure on players. The FA on 15 February expressed "serious reservations" that the proposal might damage England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup. An FA board meeting on 21 February said the plan was "unsustainable in its current format".Sports journalist Martin Johnston has suggested that, since the clubs already have so many foreign players, owners, and fans, playing games abroad is an incremental rather than a revolutionary change. 'Game 39' has also been defended as a move to head off plans for a World League involving only elite clubs such as those formerly in the G-14 group.

The proposal was condemned by Sepp Blatter, secretary-general of FIFA, who said it brought the game into disrepute and would adversely affect England's bid for the 2018 World Cup. He also said "Football cannot be like the Harlem globetrotters or a circus." Michel Platini of UEFA called it a "nonsense idea". Asian Football Confederation president Mohammed Bin Hammam said he would "vote strongly against" the proposal. Strong reservations were expressed by the Korean FA, and the Japan FA opposed the plan. Middle-eastern FAs were reportedly more positive. The Hong Kong FA has said it is "very interested" in hosting games. Football Federation Australia said it would oppose it if it impacted its own A-League. Major League Soccer (MLS) deputy commissioner Ivan Gazidis said MLS would welcome the plan if it had FIFA approval. Sunil Gulati, the president of the US Soccer Federation, said the USSF will be guided by FIFA about approving any matches.

To the top

Rafael Benítez

Rafael Benitez.JPG

Rafael "Rafa" Benítez Maudes (born 16 April 1960) is a Spanish football manager and is the current manager of Liverpool Football Club.

Born in Madrid, Benítez played football throughout his youth and joined the Real Madrid academy. He mixed his university studies with his football career at lower division Spanish teams but injury caused him to prematurely retire. He joined Real Madrid's coaching staff at the age of 26, going on to work as the under 19 and reserve teams coach, and assistant manager for the senior team. Benítez moved away from Real Madrid but management spells at Real Valladolid and CA Osasuna were short-lived and unsuccessful.

A move to Segunda División side CF Extremadura in 1997 was much more fruitful and Benítez guided the team back to the Primera División in his first season. The team were relegated the following season and he left the club, taking a brief break from football before returning to coach CD Tenerife in 2000. In 2001 Benítez was appointed coach of Valencia CF and he proved himself to be amongst the top Spanish managers by winning La Liga in the 2001–02 season. Both Don Balón and El País recognised his achievements and he was named Manager of the Year. He proved his mettle in both Spanish and European competition in 2004 by winning the league for a second time and Valencia's first UEFA Cup, making him the most successful Valencia manager in history after just three seasons. However, a disagreement between Benítez and the club director over team investment caused the Spaniard to switch to English Premier League outfit Liverpool.

Benítez was a high-achiever in his first season as he guided Liverpool to victory in the UEFA Champions League, the highest honour in European club football. This made him only the third manager, after Bob Paisley and José Mourinho, to win the UEFA Cup and UEFA Champions League in successive seasons and the second Liverpool manager, after Joe Fagan, to win the European Cup/UEFA Champions League in his first season in charge. In 2005 he won the European Super Cup and was runner-up in the Football League Cup and he won the FA Cup and the FA Community Shield the following season. Benítez reached the Champions League final again in 2007 but remained unable to finish in the top two of the Premier League, placing third in consecutive seasons.

Rafael Benítez Maudes was born on April 16, 1960, into a middle-class Madrid family. His father, Francisco Benítez, worked as a hotelier. His mother is Rosario Maudes. Rosario was a big football fan and supported Real Madrid, while his father supported Atletico Madrid. Francisco died in December 2005 while Benítez was in Japan for the FIFA Club World Championship. He is the second of three children. His older brother, also called Francisco, was born in 1959, while his younger sister, called Rosario, was born several years later. Both studied veterinary science and Rosario later became a vet. In 1998, Benítez married his wife, Maria de Montserrat, a Doctor of Law, born in Ourense. They have two daughters, Claudia, who was born in Madrid in 1999, and Ágata who was born in Valencia in 2002.

The young Benitez attended several schools throughout Madrid and played for various school teams. Among his school friends and team mates was Ricardo Gallego. He also showed his early potential as a coach when at the age of thirteen he began training a children’s football team. At the age of twelve Benítez joined the Real Madrid cantera. He progressed through the ranks, playing as a midfielder for both Real Madrid Aficionados in the Tercera División and Castilla CF, in the Segunda División. He also enrolled as a student at INEF, the sports faculty at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and in 1982 he obtained a degree in Physical Education.

In 1979 Benítez was selected to play for the Spain Universities XI at the World Student Games in Mexico City and he scored a penalty in the opening game, a 4–0 win against Cuba. In the next game, a 0–0 draw against Canada, he was injured following a hard tackle. The injury saw him sidelined for a year which realistically ended his chances of becoming a major player. In 1981 Benítez joined Tercera División side AD Parla. Initially he joined Parla on loan, but eventually signed for them permanently and helped them gain promotion to Segunda División B. He also played a further three games for the Spain Universities XI. In 1985 he signed for Segunda División B club Linares CF and under Enrique Mateos he served as a player/coach. Further injury problems saw him miss almost the entire 1985–86 season and he subsequently retired as a player.

In 1986, at the age of twenty six, Benítez returned to Real Madrid and joined the club’s coaching staff. At the start of the 1986-87 season he was appointed coach of Castilla B. With this team he won two league titles in 1987 and 1989. He won a third league title with Real Madrid Youth B in 1990. Halfway through the 1990-91 season he succeeded José Antonio Camacho as the coach of the Real Madrid U-19s. With this team he won the Spain U-19 Cup in 1991 and 1993, beating FC Barcelona in both finals. In 1993 the team completed a double when they also won the national U-19 league. While at Real, Benítez also gained his coaching certificate in 1989 and in the summer of 1990 he taught at a football camp at UC Davis in California.

During the 1992-93 season Benítez also worked as an assistant coach to Mariano García Remón at Real Madrid B. After his success with the U-19s, Benítez then succeeded García Remón at the start of the 1993-94 season. Real Madrid B were then playing in the Segunda División and on September 4 1993 he made his debut as a Segunda División manager with a 3-1 over Hércules CF. In March 1994 he became assistant manager to Vicente Del Bosque with the senior Real Madrid team before returning to coach Real Madrid B for the 1994-95 season.

The first attempts by Benítez at senior management away from the Real Madrid fold were less than successful. He was appointed manager of Real Valladolid for the 1995–96 season but was sacked after only two wins in 23 games with the club bottom of the Primera División. During the 1996–97 season, Benítez took charge at CA Osasuna in the Segunda División but after only 9 games and one win he was sacked. He did, however, meet the fitness instructor Pako Ayestaran at the club, and went on to form a partnership with him at several clubs for the next decade. In 1997, he joined another Segunda División side, CF Extremadura and this time led them to promotion, finishing second in the table behind Deportivo Alavés, after winning 23 out of 42 games. CF Extremadura only survived one season in Primera División, however, and were relegated in 1999 after finishing seventeenth and losing a play-off to Villarreal CF.

Benítez subsequently quit CF Extremadura and took a year out studying in England and Italy. He also worked as a commentator/analyst for Eurosport, Marca, El Mundo and local Madrid TV. In 2000 he was appointed manager of CD Tenerife of the Segunda División and with a team that included Mista, Curro Torres and Luis García, he gained promotion to La Liga by finishing third in the league behind Sevilla FC and Real Betis.

In 2001 Benítez was appointed coach of Valencia CF, replacing Hector Cuper. The club had previously approached Javier Irureta, Mané and Luis Aragonés and had been turned down by all three. However the club director Javier Subirats recognised the potential of Benítez and campaigned for his appointment. Despite the loss of both Gaizka Mendieta and Claudio López, he inherited from Cuper a team brimming with potential. Santiago Cañizares, Roberto Ayala, Rubén Baraja, David Albelda and Pablo Aimar provided the backbone of an already formidable but underachieving side.

Valencia CF fans were soon won over by Benítez as he introduced a more attacking style of play. He also made good use of both Mista and Curro Torres and Mista went on to become top goalscorer for Valencia CF with 19 goals in the 2003–04 season and Curro Torres became an established international. In 2002, these tactics saw Benítez lead Valencia CF to their first La Liga title in thirty one years, winning it by a seven point margin over second placed Deportivo de La Coruña.

However the following season 2002–03 was a disappointing one as the club failed to follow up on their title success, they finished only fifth in La Liga, eighteen points behind Champions Real Madrid. The season saw Benítez make his debut in the UEFA Champions League. Valencia CF reached the quarter-finals before losing to Inter Milan.

The 2003–04 season was a different story. Valencia CF won La Liga with three games to go and beat Olympique de Marseille 2–0 in the UEFA Cup final. Despite this success, Benítez fell out with Jesus Garcia Pitarch, the club's director of sport, over control of new signings and the club's failure to reinforce the squad with the players he wanted. These differences of opinion saw Benítez resign as Valencia CF coach in June 2004. He famously said "I asked for a table and they bought me a lampshade" in reference to the players he wanted the club to sign.

Liverpool were quick to take advantage of the disharmony at Valencia CF and Benítez was appointed manager of the English Premiership club on June 16, 2004, replacing Gérard Houllier. Arriving at Liverpool, he found himself in a very similar position to the one he had found at Valencia CF. The club had a talented but underperforming squad that included, among others, Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, Dietmar Hamann, Harry Kewell, Steve Finnan and Sami Hyypiä.

Benítez had barely arrived at Liverpool when Michael Owen was sold to Real Madrid. He subsequently signed several players from La Liga, most notably Luis García, Fernando Morientes and Xabi Alonso. During his first season Benítez failed to improve the club's form in the Premiership. Key players such as Steven Gerrard, Milan Baroš, Djibril Cissé, Xabi Alonso and Dietmar Hamann missed much of the season through injury and Liverpool failed to challenge Chelsea and Arsenal for the league title. They eventually finished fifth. However, they did reach the Carling Cup final against Chelsea at the Millennium Stadium but Liverpool lost 3–2 after extra time.

In the UEFA Champions League it was very different, despite a poor start. Liverpool began their campaign with an unimpressive 2–1 aggregate win over Grazer AK in the qualifying rounds and were minutes away from going out of the competition in the group stages before an 87th minute goal by Gerrard defeated Olympiakos 3–1 and saw the club progress to the last sixteen. Bayer Leverkusen were beaten 3–1 home and away followed by Juventus who were beaten 2–1 on aggregate.

In the semi-final Liverpool faced Chelsea, runaway leaders in the Premiership and favourites to win after overcoming the highly rated FC Barcelona in a previous round. Chelsea had already beaten Liverpool in the League Cup final and twice in the Premiership. After a goalless leg at Stamford Bridge, an early goal from Luis García saw Liverpool win 1–0 on aggregate and reach the final against AC Milan. In a classic final, Liverpool came from 3–0 down at half-time to level the score at 3–3, in the space of just under 6 minutes, and eventually won on penalties with the assistance of Jerzy Dudek, giving Liverpool an historic fifth European Cup. Benitez' calm methodical approach at half time was said to give the player's the belief they could pull off an improbable comeback.

For the 2005–06 season Benítez further reinforced the Liverpool squad by signing Peter Crouch, Mohamed Sissoko, José "Pepe" Reina, Boudewijn Zenden and Daniel Agger, as well as former Liverpool player (and fan favourite) Robbie Fowler in the January transfer window.

It is notable that Dudek's heroics in the Champions league final were not enough for him to stay as first choice keeper, as Reina replaced him in goal right away. Benitez also quickly discarded unlikely heroes Vladimír Šmicer and Igor Biscan, who played key roles in the European success but seemingly did not figure in Benítez' long-term plans. Benitez also quickly sold two of his first signings in English football, Josemi and Antonio Núñez after they failed to establish themselves. This is an example of what some may see as Benítez' ruthlessness.

The improvements saw the club's Premiership form improve considerably. Liverpool finished third in the league, qualifying for the UEFA Champions League and only narrowly missed out on second place by 1 point. Liverpool also won the FA Cup beating both Manchester United and Chelsea on the way to the final against West Ham Utd. History repeated itself in the final as they then went on to lift the trophy after a penalty shoot-out, following a dramatic 3-3 draw. Liverpool came from 2–0 down and were losing 3–2 in stoppage time when Steven Gerrard scored a dramatic late equalizer. This time Pepe Reina saved three penalties during the shoot-out to secure the silverware.

In winning the FA Cup 'Rafa' became the only manager in the history of Liverpool Football Club to win major trophies in both of his first two seasons at the club.

The English Press were predicting Liverpool would challenge Chelsea for the Premiership crown after Benitez addressed Liverpool's perceived weaknesses in the transfer window by signing strikers Craig Bellamy and Dirk Kuyt as well as wingers Jermaine Pennant and Mark Gonzalez, a belief reaffirmed after his side won the Community Shield with 2-1 victory over Chelsea.

Although Liverpool had qualified for the knockout stage of the UEFA Champions League with two games to spare (a new record for the club), and then going on to win the group with one game still left, Benitez's future at the Liverpool was called into question after poor away results in the league: his agent was quoted as saying he would consider offers to manage in Italy. Benitez swiftly issued a statement through the club's website re-affirming his desire to remain with Liverpool for the long term.

Although the team's league results improved, their defence of the FA Cup lasted just one game as they were knocked out by Arsenal at Anfield; and four days later they were knocked out of the League Cup, also by Arsenal losing 6–3 at Anfield, Liverpool's heaviest home defeat since 1913. However this was soon forgotten when Liverpool beat Chelsea 2–0 at Anfield, Benitez's first league victory over Jose Mourinho's side. At the end of the league campaign, Liverpool were on 68 points, beating Arsenal to third place on goal difference but their poor away form had prevented the title challenge many were expecting - they did not win away in the League until December.

After beating PSV Eindhoven 4-0 on aggregate in the quarter-finals, Liverpool draw Chelsea in the semi finals. In the first leg, Liverpool lost 1–0 at Chelsea, but won the return leg 1–0, and then ultimately winning 4–1 in a penalty shoot-out after extra time. After the game, Liverpool's new co-owner George Gillett said: "Rafa has been tremendous ... We knew of him but I don't think we realized how good he was, and not just as a coach. Not only was he a brilliant coach but he is a very sharp, savvy businessman. He knows what he wants and how to get it. The more we have seen of him the more impressed we have become." During the penalty shoot out, Rafa was noted for sitting down cross-legged in his technical area. He later explained that it was because fans behind the dug-out were complaining that they could not see.

Liverpool contended with AC Milan for their sixth European Cup in Athens, Greece on May 23, 2007, in a repeat of the 2005 final but lost 2–1, after two goals by Filippo Inzaghi. Following the defeat Benitez insisted his club's new owners had to back him in the transfer market in order for Liverpool to progress. It was reported Benitez did not feel he had the complete support of the new owners, a thought that was compounded by Liverpool's initial lack of activity in the transfer window, although the club played these rumours down.

Benítez released several players in the summer, including fan-favourites Robbie Fowler, Luis García and Jerzy Dudek as well as Djibril Cissé and Craig Bellamy. Benitez also tried to sign left-back Gabriel Heinze from Manchester United, however on August 21, 2007 an FA panel ruled that Manchester United were under no obligation to sell Heinze to a rival club.

Liverpool's new owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett provided Benítez with transfer funds for the new season to attempt to bridge the gap to Premiership rivals Manchester United and Chelsea. Benítez broke Liverpool's transfer record when signing Spanish striker Fernando Torres from Atletico Madrid as well as signing Ajax's young Dutch forward Ryan Babel, West Ham attacking midfielder Yossi Benayoun, Brazilian player of the year Lucas Leiva and Andriy Voronin on Bosman. During the pre-season he also invested in a number of young foreign players such as Bulgarian under-21 goalkeeper Nikolay Mihaylov, Australian Dean Bouzanis Hungarian starlets Krisztian Nemeth, Andras Simon, Peter Gulacsi and signed young players Dani Pacheco and Gerardo Bruna from Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively.

Liverpool made a good start to the new league season and remained unbeaten at the end of November, having topped the Premier League table for the first time under Benitez after a comprehensive 6–0 win over Derby County. Despite this, poor results in the Champions League and a disagreement over future transfers lead to a public falling-out with the club's owners, played out in the media at the end of November. It was suggested that Benitez's position was now under serious threat. The resulting coverage resulted in an overwhelming show of support by fans in support of Benitez which culminated in a fans' march in support of Benitez ahead of the critical Champions League home tie with Porto, which they won 4–1. It has since emerged that at the time Jürgen Klinsmann was offered the Liverpool job before accepting the post of Bayern Munich manager while Benitez was constantly linked to Real Madrid.

Benitez was unable to win any trophies, Liverpool's domestic campaign faltering in the winter months - including a shock FA Cup exit at home to Barnsley - and his side this time lost to Chelsea in the Champions League semi-finals. Despite the lack of silverware, the main talking points were off the pitch, with Benitez in the middle of a power struggle between the Liverpool board.

Benitez was reportedly close to quitting Liverpool in the summer of 2008 over the Liverpool board's failure to back him in his bid to purchase Gareth Barry from Aston Villa. Benitez had reportedly intended to sell Xabi Alonso to fund the purchase of Barry, a decision that did not meet with unanimous approval from The Kop. Benitez did however address what were seen as the weak areas of Liverpool's squad through the purchase Robbie Keane, Andrea Dossena and Albert Riera, amongst others. It is believed that Benitez prioritised the signing of Barry over Keane, but Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry instead chose to first pay £20million for Keane and then pulled the plug on the Barry deal, causing tension between the two that would resurface later in the season.

Despite the off-field difficulties, Liverpool made an impressive start to the 2008–09 season recording the best-ever start made by Liverpool in the Barclays Premier League. Benitez recorded his first ever league win against Manchester United at Anfield on the 13 September and went on to beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on the 25 October, to end Chelsea's unbeaten run of 86 home league games. It was announced on the 7 November 2008 that Benitez had begun negotiations for a new contract with club owners Tom Hicks and George Gillette. Both owners have announced, that they have full confidence in Benitez and are delighted with the club's progress with him as manager. On 14 November, Benitez was awarded the Barclays Premier League Manager of the Month award, for Liverpool's four consecutive league victories.

On 26 November 2008, with the Champions League group stage game against Olympique Marseille, Benitez broke Bill Shankly's record of 65 European matches as Liverpool manager and matched Bob Paisley's European record of 39 wins.

An operation to remove kidney stones in December meant Benitez was not present at the Emirates Stadium for Liverpool's 1-1 draw with Arsenal, although he did pass instructions over the phone to assistant Sammy Lee, who also took charge for the next two matches, with Benitez watching from the stands. Liverpool finished the calendar year top of the Premier League for the first time since 1996.

However, Benitez still appeared to be at odds with Liverpool's owners, publicly turning down a contract extension and demanding more control over transfers. In the January transfer window, Robbie Keane was resold to Tottenham with some analysts claiming he was a "pawn in a power struggle" between Benitez and the club's owners . Combined with poor results on the pitch, including losing in the FA Cup to local rivals Everton, and a pre-meditated attack on Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, some opposition supporters and journalists began to ponder if Benitez was "cracking up" under the pressure of launching a title bid - a claim Benitez denied. Benitez' supporters argued that his actions were deflecting attention away from his under performing players and club captain Steven Gerrard, who was charged with assault and affray following an incident in a nightclub.

Benitez has had confrontations with both Jose Mourinho (Chelsea manager, 2004–2007) and Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United manager, 1986–) during his time in English football. Benitez made a number of suggestions during Mourinho's tenure as manager that Roman Abramovich's money had brought Chelsea success, and the pair refused to shake hands after some matches (although Mourinho declared the feud to be over after a league game in 2006). When Mourinho exited Chelsea in 2007, Benitez said "You know my relationship with him, it is better that I do not say anything"; declining to comment as Ferguson and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had.

On 9 January 2009 Benitez attacked Ferguson by claiming he was "the only manager who will not be punished" for verbally attacking referees and citing a long lists of 'facts' against Ferguson and United. The comments came after he was asked for a response to Ferguson's comments about nerves ruining Liverpool's 2008–09 title bid. Benitez took out a piece of paper during the press conference, and proceeded to criticize Ferguson for complaints over fixtures, and speculate that it may have been Manchester United who had reason to be nervous, with Liverpool top of the league. Benitez's claims have been disputed, and Ferguson responded to them by saying that "There was a lot of venom in what he has said" and that he was being "ridiculous". BBC journalist Phil McNulty said the following weekend had gone "just about perfect from both a psychological and footballing perspective" for Ferguson after Liverpool drew with Stoke City, and Manchester United defeated Chelsea with a "damaging" 3–0 victory. Benitez then, a few days later, addressed issues about Manchester United authority David Gill also being involved on the senior management team at the FA, claiming that United could have major decisions turned in their favour.

To the top

Everton Kirkby Project


The Kirkby Project is the official project name of a proposed new stadium in Kirkby, Liverpool, England for the Everton football club. The stadium, whose naming rights will be sold to a commercial entity at a later date, has a planned all-seated capacity of 50,403 with a provision to be expanded to 60,000.

These are approximate for Planning Statement purposes and include general spectators, hospitality, directors, disabled, press and media but exclude players.

In 1996, Everton FC under Peter Johnson released plans to relocate Everton to a new stadium on the site of Kirkby Golf Course.

A fan-funded organisation was set up by supporters called 'Goodison For Everton' who later commissioned the Architects behind Twickenham's redevelopment for a feasibility report which supports the view that Goodison Park can be redeveloped. It was also revealed at a later date that current chairman Bill Kenwright was a major backer of the GFE organisation. Bill is now trying to move the club away from its spiritual home and fanbase to Kirkby himself in the hope that thousands of fans will appear from the 'Manchester Corridor' in order to make the project feasible.

In 2000, Everton released plans for a proposed new 50,000 seat stadium that would form part of the King's Dock development in Liverpool on the Mersey front.

A ballot of supporters at this time found that, of those questioned, 85% would prefer to leave Goodison Park for a new stadium. As part of the proposal, Everton would be granted "preferred bidder" status and would contribute £30m towards the project. However, the club failed to raise the money necessary and were forced to pull out of the project in 2003.

There were rumours that Everton's preference for a new stadium site was Stanley Park but council records show that Everton have never made a formal enquiry about the availability of land.

In 2005, with the announcement that Liverpool were planning a new stadium to replace Anfield, Everton met with the then Sports Minister Richard Caborn, the city council and representatives of Liverpool to discuss the possibility of a ground-share. This proposal was however not greeted with significant enthusiasm by either club, and so Liverpool have continued the project alone..

The ground share idea was reintroduced in 2008 when Liverpool City Council leader Warren Bradley told the local press that he had been working on it behind the scenes.. Liverpool's Rick Parry and Everton's Keith Wyness have both dismissed the idea as a non-starter.

In December 2004, Everton again began looking at the possibility of leaving Goodison Park for a new stadium. In 2006, two possibilities of a location for the ground being in Liverpool and another possible location in Kirkby (in the neighbouring borough of Knowsley) were put forward. Everton said at their AGM they have signed an exclusive deal to look at the Kirkby proposal but will not move out of the city without the fans backing. On the February 7, 2007 Everton submitted their initial proposals to Knowsley Council, with a preferred location being next to Knowsley Community College.

The Kirkby option includes a stadium designed loosely on that of FC Köln's stadium in Germany selected for the World Cup in 2006. It is part of a development known as 'Destination Kirkby' which was backed by Terry Leahy the CEO of the supermarket chain Tescoand would include a Tesco supermarket, a hotel and a retail park with car parking similar to Coventry's Ricoh Arena.

The other tangible benefit would be for England's bid for the 2018 World Cup. FIFA rules dictate that only one city can have two host stadia, and no other city can have more than one. Everton's new stadium would be able to host matches as it would fall outside the city limits, however the current plans fail to meet FIFA's recommendations due to the distance between the stadium and the hotel availability and available car parking.

The stadium will include a conference centre that will be used by Knowsley Council.

Everton manager David Moyes posed with a banner for the Keep Everton In Our City campaign during a pre-season tour in the United States. A club official said '"He was not aware of the wording on the banner when the photograph was taken.'". David Moyes has never publicly commented.

The Liverpool City Council leader Warren Bradley referred to the Everton's proposed stadium in Kirkby as "a cow shed in a small town".

Former Everton Chief Executive, Keith Wyness met with Liverpool City Council to discuss an alternative site within the city in the Everton district adjacent to Scotland Road on land known as the 'loop' next to the Wallasey Tunnel. However he dismissed it as he did not believe it would have the potential for a 75,000 capacity stadium.. The figure of 75,000 had never been spoken of prior to this meeting.

The site for proposed stadium is 4 miles from Goodison Park in the suburb of Kirkby (population 42,000). A number of fans are opposed to the relocating Everton F.C. to Kirkby for varying reasons.

The most common reason given is that Kirkby is outside of Liverpool and in neighbouring borough Knowsley. There are concerns amongst those who oppose the development that public transport for spectators is limited as the site's location is 8 miles from the public transport network hub.

It is perceived by some that Liverpool's city boundaries are outdated and that the next boundary revision should see South Sefton and Knowsley incorporated into Liverpool.

The stadium was praised as being the "best served transportation wise of any stadium in the north west if not the UK" by Steer Davies Gleave, the company responsible for the transport arrangements at major stadiums in the country (notably Wembley Stadium and Emirates Stadium), but some fans have grown to be wary of the claim.

The site's location has better M57 Motorway access than Goodison Park but there are concerns that the existing bus network and local railway station will not be able to cope with the demand for a 50,000 capacity stadium.

The railway station is a short distance away from the stadium has a direct access to Liverpool and Manchester city centres but only has one platform and there are no plans to add another.

The club are also paying for an additional 170+ bus services to take fans to and from the stadium before and after each game. It is also predicted that the transport infrastructure will be forced to improve once the stadium has been built in Kirkby should the development be granted planning permission.

Opinion is equally divided between Kirkby residents on the project. Some believe that the associated traffic problems will bring the town centre to a stand-still, whilst others believe the stadium will be a catalyst for the town's regeneration.

At an open meeting for Evertonians on the 10th March, 2007 a movement named Keep Everton In Our City was inaugurated, with the stated aim of preventing Everton Football Club moving to a site that they did not feel was adequate for a Premier league football club for varying reasons.

Liverpool Council Leader, Liberal Democrat Warren Bradley, was in attendance and stated that the City Council have a strong desire to keep Everton Football Club within the city. He and Joe Anderson, leader of the opposition Labour group, later accused the previous council of 'shame' in not doing enough to keep Everton within the city boundaries.

Former Everton players/journeymen have backed the KEIOC movement including ex-Everton fans favourite Duncan Ferguson, Tony Kay, , Graham Stuart, Barry Horne and Ronnie Goodlass. None of the clubs legends oppose the move though.

Everton chairman Bill Kenwright had previously said that naming rights would not be sold when pushing for the Kings Dock Arena project, he had wanted to call it "New Goodison". Some fans were surprised when it was announced that Everton FC are looking to sell naming rights for the proposed new stadium.

The Club's press officer Ian Ross said that the club could obtain up to £6million per annum for the naming rights.

Earlier Robert Elstone, the club's then deputy Chief Executive Officer had said the figure would be closer to £4.5million per annum.

Elstone also said: 'We are known as the people's club and so we are trying to live up to that. We're looking for a brand that fits with the consumers, who are typically 18-35 year old males.' Elstone said the club is looking to secure a 15-year deal and that the brand could be the same company that sponsors the club's shirt as is the case with Bolton and Reebok, and Arsenal and Emirates.

It was also described as "a lost opportunity".

CABE however are notorious for urging planning applications to be declined, they famously urged that Liverpool FC's plans for Stanley Park be denied, the plea was rejected by Liverpool City Council and the government.

A number of local authorities objected to the scheme including Liverpool City Council, Sefton Council, West Lancashire Council and St Helens Council as they felt that the accompanying retail park would have a detrimental effect to towns in their area. The objections led to more controversy as Knowsley councillor Eddie Connor publicly stated that Liverpool political party leaders Warren Bradley and Joe Anderson should not have been able to address their planning committee's due to their footballing allegiance (Everton FC).

The Duke of Westminster's company Grosvenor lodged an objection but at the inquiry their representative declared that the Kirkby retail would not affect Liverpool One.

Knowsley Council announced that they are looking to brand itself as the 'home' of Everton FC, to help boost the national profile of Knowsley.

The council currently does this on the M57 motorway with hoardings advertising the borough as home of QVC but oddly there are no Motorway signs with Kirkby on. They also intend to move Everton's charity 'Everton in the community' to offices in Knowsley.

Further community benefits from the redevelopment include the new civic facilities, including a library and gallery, and the provision of community services by Everton in the Community from a new local base.

Knowsley Council will be the stadium operators and they will directly negotiate the sub-lease terms with Everton. Keith Wyness, the club's CEO has stated Everton will pay a "peppercorn rent" but has not given an exact sum. Tesco will sign a 999 year lease for the land from Knowsley Council and Everton FC will sub-lease from supermarket giants Tesco. Everton FC will however own their new ground.

Liverpool City Council representatives Cushman and Wakefield suggested that Everton are attempting to receive state aid as they will not fund their share of the stadium from retail enabling as Everton originally stated.

On 20 July 2007 the proposed stadium plans were produced for the Kirkby option. However prior to this Everton conducted a ballot to decide if it was the best option would be held with eligible voters being current season ticket holders, individuals who have had a season ticket in the last three years, adult Evertonia members and shareholders. Complimentary season ticket holders were not eligible to vote.

On Goodison Park's 115th anniversary, August 24 2007 the result was announced. .

As a result Everton will continue to negotiate plans with Tesco and Knowsley Borough Council. Despite the controversy, Everton have pressed ahead with the plans, with an application submitted to Knowsley Council by the club and Tesco on January 2, 2008.

On the 6th August 2008, the project was called in by the Government. In a statement by the club, Everton were said to be "disappointed by the decision.".

To the top

Steven Gerrard

Gerrard shooting for Liverpool

Steven George Gerrard, MBE (IPA: ; born 30 May 1980) is an English footballer who plays for English Premier League club Liverpool F.C. and the England national team. He is usually employed in the central midfield role, although he has also played as a right-sided midfielder and a second striker.

Gerrard, who has spent his entire career at Anfield, made his debut in 1998 and cemented his place in the first team in the 2000-01 season, succeeding Sami Hyypiä as Liverpool team captain in 2003. His honours include a pair of FA Cups and two Football League Cup wins, as well as the UEFA Cup in 2001 and the UEFA Champions League in 2005, following Liverpool's comeback in the final.

Gerrard made his international debut in 2000, and represented England in the UEFA European Championships in 2000 and 2004 as well as the 2006 FIFA World Cup, where he was the team's top goalscorer.

Born in Whiston, Merseyside, Gerrard started out playing for hometown team Whiston Juniors, where he was noticed by Liverpool scouts. He joined the Reds' youth academy at the age of nine. Gerrard then had trials with various clubs at fourteen, including Manchester United, which he claimed in his 2006 autobiography was "to pressure Liverpool into giving me a YTS contract." He signed his first professional contract with Liverpool on 5 November 1997.

Gerrard made his Liverpool first-team debut on 29 November 1998 in a match against Blackburn Rovers as a last minute substitute for Vegard Heggem. He made thirteen appearances in his debut season, filling in the midfield position for injured captain Jamie Redknapp and playing on the right wing, but he scarcely contributed in the short on-pitch time he received, due to nervousness affecting his play. Gerrard recalled in a November 2008 interview with The Guardian, "I was out of position and out of my depth." The Liverpool hierarchy nonetheless remained convinced that he would improve. Gerrard saw himself as a defensive player primarily, looking to make key tackles rather than push the team forward.

Gerrard partnered Redknapp in central midfield for the 1999–00 season. After starting the derby match against Everton F.C. on the bench, he replaced Robbie Fowler in the second half but received his first career red card for a late foul on Everton's Kevin Campbell. Later that season, Gerrard scored his first senior goal in a 4–1 victory over Sheffield Wednesday. However, he began to suffer from nagging back problems, which sports consultant Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt later diagnosed as a result of accelerated growth, coupled with excessive playing, during his teenage years. He was then beset by groin injuries that required four separate operations.

In 2000–01, he made fifty starts in all competitions and scored ten goals as Liverpool won the League Cup, FA Cup, and the 2001 UEFA Cup. Gerrard replaced Sami Hyypiä as Liverpool captain in October 2003, as manager Gérard Houllier said that he recognised Gerrard had demonstrated leadership qualities early on, but needed to mature. He chose to extend his contract at the club, signing a new four-year deal.

Houllier quit after a trophyless 2003–04 campaign, and Gerrard was linked with a move to Chelsea F.C. during the offseason. He admitted he was not "happy with the progress has made," and that "for the first time in my career I've thought about the possibility of moving on." In the end, Gerrard turned down a £20 million offer from Chelsea to stay with Liverpool and new coach Rafael Benítez.

Liverpool were wracked with injury early in the 2004–05 season, and a foot injury suffered in a September league match against Manchester United shelved Gerrard until late November. He returned to score in the last five minutes of a Champions League group stage match against Olympiacos F.C. to secure Liverpool's advancement to the knockout round. He claimed that this was his most important, if not his best, goal for Liverpool to date. However, Gerrard netted an own goal during the 2005 League Cup final on 27 February, which proved decisive in Liverpool's 3–2 loss to Chelsea.

During a six-minute stretch in the second half of the 2005 Champions League final against A.C. Milan, Liverpool rebounded from a three-goal deficit to tie the match at 3–3 after extra time, with Gerrard scoring one of the goals. He did not participate in the penalty shootout, which Liverpool won 3–2 as they claimed their first CL trophy in twenty years, though he was named the Man of the Match, and later received the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year award.

In regards to his contract issues with Liverpool, Gerrard told the press after the final, "How can I leave after a night like this?" But negotiations soon stalled and on 5 July 2005, after Liverpool turned down another lucrative offer from Chelsea, Gerrard rejected a club-record £100,000-a-week offer. Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry conceded the club had lost Gerrard, saying, "Now we have to move on. We have done our best, but he has made it clear he wants to go and I think it looks pretty final." The next day, Gerrard signed a new four-year deal as Parry blamed the earlier breakdown of talks on miscommunication between the two sides.

Gerrard scored twenty-three goals in 53 appearances in 2005–06, and in April became the first Liverpool player since John Barnes in 1988 to be voted the PFA Player of the Year. He scored twice in the 2006 FA Cup final against West Ham United, including an equalizer that sent the match into extra time, and Liverpool won their second consecutive major trophy on penalties. The goals made him the only player to have scored in the FA Cup, League Cup, UEFA Cup and Champions League finals. Gerrard netted a penalty as Liverpool eliminated league rival Chelsea in the 2006–07 Champions League semi-finals to return to their second final in three seasons, which they lost 2–1 to Milan.

Gerrard suffered a hairline toe fracture in an August 2007 Champions League qualifier against Toulouse F.C., but returned four days later to play the entirety of a 1–1 league draw against Chelsea. On 28 October 2007, Gerrard played his 400th game for Liverpool in a league match against Arsenal, in which he scored. He scored in all but one of Liverpool's domestic and European matches during the month of November, and after scoring the only goal in a Champions League away tie against Olympique de Marseille on 11 December, he became the first Liverpool player since John Aldridge in 1989 to score in seven consecutive games in all competitions.

He made his 300th Premier League appearance on 13 April 2008 in a match against Blackburn Rovers, scoring the opening goal, and finished the season with twenty-two league goals, surpassing his total from the 2006–07 season. Gerrard was selected for the PFA Team of the Year and he was also one of the nominees for the PFA Player of the Year, alongside teammate Fernando Torres.

Gerrard needed to undergo groin surgery at the beginning of the season, but the problem was not serious and he quickly returned to training. He scored what appeared to be his hundredth career Liverpool goal against Stoke City FC on 20 September, but it was disallowed after Dirk Kuyt was ruled offside. He achieved the milestone eleven days later in a 3–1 Champions League group stage win over PSV Eindhoven.

Gerrard made his international debut against Ukraine on 31 May 2000. That summer, he was called up for Euro 2000, making only one appearance as a substitute in a 1–0 win over Germany before England were eliminated in the group stage. Gerrard scored his first international goal in a 5–1 victory over Germany in a 2002 World Cup qualifier in September 2001, and while England qualified, Gerrard was forced to pull out of the squad due to his ongoing groin problems.

He was a regular starter in Euro 2004, scoring once - against Switzerland - before England were eliminated by Portugal in the quarter-finals on penalties. He participated in his first World Cup in 2006 and scored a team-leading two goals, both in the group stage, against Trinidad & Tobago and Sweden, though his spot kick was one of three saved by goalkeeper Ricardo as England again bowed out to Portugal in the quarter-finals on penalties.

Gerrard was made vice-captain of the England team by coach Steve McClaren, and while he filled in for John Terry as captain, England suffered back-to-back losses to Russia and Croatia that ended their Euro 2008 qualifying hopes. Gerrard was subsequently replaced as England vice-captain by Rio Ferdinand. After new coach Fabio Capello took over the team in early 2008, Gerrard was given a trial run as captain but Capello settled on Terry for the role.

Gerrard and his wife, fashion journalist Alex Curran, married at the Cliveden mansion in Buckinghamshire on 16 June 2007, the same day as the weddings of England team-mates Gary Neville and Michael Carrick. He has an older brother, Paul (not to be confused with former Everton goalkeeper Paul Gerrard), and his cousin Anthony plays for Walsall F.C. In September 2006, Gerrard published his autobiography, Gerrard: My Autobiography, which went on to win the Sports Book of the Year honour at the British Book Awards.

On 1 October 2007, Gerrard was involved in a low-speed accident in Southport when the car he was driving hit a ten-year-old bicyclist, who had shot into the street and inadvertently cut off Gerrard's path. He later visited the boy in the hospital and presented him with a pair of boots signed by the boy's favourite player, Wayne Rooney, after which he stayed to sign autographs for other young patients.

Councillors of Knowsley voted to make Gerrard a Freeman of the Borough on 13 December 2007, and two weeks later, he was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in The Queen's New Year Honours List, for services to sport. He received an honorary fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University on 26 July 2008 as recognition for his contribution to sport.

On 29 December 2008, Gerrard was arrested outside the Lounge Inn in Southport on suspicion of a section 20 assault. He and two others were later charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm and affray, relating to an incident which left the bar's disc jockey with a broken tooth and cuts to his forehead. The three men were given police to court bail and were required to appear at North Sefton Magistrates' Court on 23 January 2009, where they all pleaded not guilty. The case was adjourned until 20 March, when they will return to the court.

To the top

2005 UEFA Champions League Final


The 2005 UEFA Champions League Final was the final match of the 2004–05 UEFA Champions League, Europe's primary club football competition. The show-piece event was contested between Liverpool of England and Milan of Italy at the Atatürk Stadium in Istanbul, Turkey on Wednesday 25 May 2005. Liverpool, who had won the competition four times were appearing in their sixth final, and their first since the Heysel Stadium Disaster in 1985, while Milan, who had won the competition six times were appearing in their second final in three years and tenth overall.

Each club needed to progress through the group stage and knockout rounds to reach the final, playing 12 matches in total. Liverpool finished second in their group behind 2004 runners up Monaco and subsequently beat Bayer Leverkusen, Juventus and Chelsea to progress to the final. Milan won their group ahead of Barcelona and faced Manchester United, Internazionale and PSV Eindhoven before reaching the final.

Milan were regarded as favourites before the match and took the lead within the first minute through captain Paolo Maldini. Hernán Crespo added two more goals before half-time to make it 3–0. During the second half Liverpool scored three goals in six minutes to level the scores at 3–3, the goals coming courtesy of Steven Gerrard, Vladimír Šmicer and Xabi Alonso. The scores stayed the same during extra time, and a penalty shootout was required to decide the champions. The score was 3–2 to Liverpool when Andriy Shevchenko's penalty was saved by Liverpool goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek. Thus Liverpool won their fifth European Cup, 20 years after being banned from European competition following Heysel Stadium Disaster.

Teams qualified for the Champions League group stage, either directly or through three preliminary rounds, based on both their position in the preceding domestic league and the strength of that league. Liverpool entered the competition in the Third qualifying round after finishing fourth in the FA Premier League 2003-04. They faced Grazer AK of Austria, winning the first leg 2–0 away from home courtesy of two goals from captain Steven Gerrard. They lost the second leg 1–0 at Anfield but progressed to the group stage by virtue of winning the tie 2–1 on aggregate. Milan entered the competition in the group stage after winning Serie A. The group stages were contested as eight double round robin groups of four teams, the top two qualifying for the knockout stages. Knockout ties were decided based on home and away matches, with the away goals rule, extra time and penalty shootouts as tiebreakers if needed.

The 2005 final was the sixth time Liverpool had reached the showpiece match, it was their first appearance since 1985, when they lost 1–0 to Juventus and were subsequently banned from European competition for an indefinite period due to the Heysel Stadium Disaster. They had previously won the European Cup on four occasions in 1977, 1978, 1981 and 1984. For Milan this was their tenth appearance in their final, they had won on six occasions (1963, 1969, 1989, 1990, 1994, 2003), and lost three times (1958, 1993, 1995). In total the teams had participated in 14 finals between them. Going into the match Milan were assured of entering the Champions League next season after finishing second in Serie A, albeit with a match left. Liverpool meanwhile had failed to finish in the top four in the Premier League, and had to win this match to have any chance of entering the competition next season. Even if they did win the match they were not assured of a place with UEFA neither confirming or denying if they would allow Liverpool to enter the competition next season. The Football Association supported Liverpool stating: "We have already submitted a written request to have an additional place, should they win the Champions League". Milan manager Carlo Ancelotti had his own view on the situation: "I think a team that wins should have the right to defend it but we may just do the English federation a favour and solve this".

69,500 tickets were available for the final with each team receiving 20,000 tickets each. UEFA auctioned 7,500 tickets for the final through its website, whilst another 14,500 were distributed to its "football family". The Turkish Football Federation also had 7,500 tickets available for fans from their country, though there were doubts about whether these tickets would end up being sold on the black market. Hotel rooms in the city were scarce with the 100,000 available quickly snapped up by travel agents and fans. 30,000 Liverpool fans made the trip to Istanbul to see Liverpool compete in their first final in 20 years. Of those 30,000, only 20,000 were expected to have tickets, with the rest of the fans watching the match in the many bars in the city. The early arrivals were lively but generally there was no violence and the mood between the two fans was friendly.

Milan were regarded as favourites and had many players who had experienced success in the competition. The most notable were captain Paolo Maldini, who had won the competition four times previously all with Milan, and Clarence Seedorf who had won the competition three times with three different clubs. Liverpool had been considered underdogs throughout the competition and had beat more favoured opposition including Juventus and Chelsea to reach the final. Liverpool manager Rafael Benítez acknowledged this: "Maybe Milan are favourites, but we have confidence, and we can win". Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger felt Liverpool would win the match: "I fancy Liverpool as Milan look jaded physically and certainly mentally, by losing the title, I think they have never had a better chance than now to beat Milan". Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher was not so optimistic stating that this Liverpool side were not as good as the one that won the UEFA Cup in 2001: "No disrespect to the squad we have got now but it is obvious we are not as strong as we were when we won the UEFA Cup in 2001. Back then we had a settled team and that season when we went into games against Barcelona and Roma, we always felt we were as good as them".

Milan were expected to field a 4-4-2 with much discussion about who would partner Andriy Shevchenko up front. Filippo Inzaghi and Jon Dahl Tomasson were touted but it was expected that on loan striker Hernán Crespo would be chosen. This was echoed by Milan manager Ancelotti: "I will not say if he will play from the start, but he will definitely play". Liverpool were expected to line up in similar 4-4-2 formation. Dietmar Hamann was expected to start ahead of Igor Bišćan, while there was doubt over whether Djibril Cisse or Milan Baroš would start as the main striker, Benítez gave no clues as to who would play when questioned on the matter: "Both are good enough, maybe both can play, why not?".

Liverpool fielded a 4-4-1-1 formation, with the surprise inclusion in the squad being Harry Kewell who played off the shoulder of Milan Baroš, who himself had been picked ahead of Djibril Cisse. The inclusion of Kewell meant Dietmar Hamann had to settle for a place on the substitutes' bench, with Xabi Alonso and Steven Gerrard lining up in the centre of midfield. Milan fielded a 4-4-2 formation, with Hernán Crespo being preferred to Jon Dahl Tomasson and Filippo Inzaghi, who was not included in the match day squad. Liverpool lined up in their red home kit, whilst Milan were in their change strip of all white. Liverpool won the the toss and kicked off.

Milan scored within the first minute of the match, after captain Paolo Maldini volleyed in an Andrea Pirlo free-kick which had been conceded by Djimi Traore. As a result of scoring Maldini became the oldest scorer in the competition. Liverpool almost responded immediately, John Arne Riise was picked out from a corner by Steven Gerrard, who hit a volley from the edge of the penalty box, his shot was cleared only for Gerrard to cross in from the right wing, which Sami Hyypiä headed towards goal producing a save out of Dida. Milan almost extended their lead in the 13th minute, after Crespo's header was cleared off the line by Luis García. A few minutes later Liverpool made a substitution after Harry Kewell picked up a groin injury; he was replaced by Vladimír Šmicer. Soon after Kaka played a ball through to Andriy Shevchenko who put his shot past Liverpool goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek, but he was adjudged to have been in an offside position and the goal did not stand. Shevchenko had another chance to score a few minutes later; after being played onside by Traore his shot was saved by Dudek after coming under pressure from the Liverpool defence. Luis García had two chances to score following Shevchenko's shot, the first saw his shot go well over the crossbar on the edge of the penalty area, his second saw him send his shot wide after being headed through by Baroš. Straight after this attack Crespo went through on goal only to be flagged for offside. Almost immediately after this Liverpool had a penalty claim turned down after Alessandro Nesta's allegedly handballed. Milan countered and scored; Kaka carried the ball into the Liverpool half, passed to Shevchenko, who passed to Crespo at the far post to score and make it 2–0. Minutes later Crespo scored again with Kaka providing the pass, and the striker chipping over Dudek to extend Milan's lead again.

At the start of the second half, Liverpool made a substitution with Dietmar Hamann replacing Steve Finnan. Following this they decided to play three in defence and four in midfield in an attempt to reduce the deficit. Liverpool had the best chance early on with Xabi Alonso sending an effort from 35 yards (32 m) narrowly past Milan's right hand post. A minute later Liverpool scored through captain Steven Gerrard who headed in John Arne Riise's cross. Almost immediately afterwards Liverpool scored again; Vladimír Šmicer beating Dida in the Milan goal to leave Liverpool a goal behind. Three minutes after Šmicer's goal Liverpool were awarded a penalty after Gennaro Gattuso brought down Steven Gerrard in the Milan penalty area. Xabi Alonso's penalty was saved, but he scored from the rebound, to equalise for Liverpool. Both Milan and Liverpool had chances to take the lead after this, but Clarence Seedorf and Riise failed to score. Milan almost took the lead in the 70th minute, after Dudek dropped a low cross towards Shevchenko, whose effort was cleared off the line by Traore. Gerrard then had a chance to score but he sent his shot over the crossbar. About ten minutes later García could not control a pass from Gerrard which lead to a Milan attack, Crespo played the ball back to Kaka, whose subsequent shot was blocked by Jamie Carragher. A number of substitutions were made before the end of full time with Liverpool replacing Milan Baroš with Djibril Cisse, while Milan replaced Hernán Crespo and Clarence Seedorf with Jon Dahl Tomasson and Serginho respectively. Milan had the last chance before full time, Kaka failed to direct Jaap Stam's header towards goal, meaning there would be extra time for the 13th time in the competition's history.

Liverpool kicked off the first half of extra time. Pirlo had the chance of the early stages, but he put his shot over the crossbar. Tomasson came close in the later stages of the first period of extra time, but he could make contact with the ball. Vladimir Šmicer required treatment for cramp towards the end of the first period, as a number of Liverpool players began to tire. Liverpool had the best of the early exchanges winning two corners, but could not score. A few minutes later Milan make their final substitution replacing Gennaro Gattuso with Manuel Rui Costa. The best chance of the second half came near the end when Shevchenko shot at goal, which Dudek saved only for it to rebound back out to Shevchenko, who again shot at goal from under 6 yards, which Dudek again saved pushing the header over the bar. Liverpool had one last chance at the end of extra time, but John Arne Riise's free kick shot was blocked and following this the referee signalled the end of extra time, meaning a penalty shootout would decide the champion.

Both sides had won their last European Cups on penalties, it was also the second time in three years the final would be decided by a penalty shootout. Milan were first to take a penalty with Serginho, who shot over the crossbar, following Jerzy Dudek dancing on the goal-line. Dietmar Hamann took Liverpool's first penalty, scoring to put his side 1–0 up. Andrea Pirlo was next for Milan, and his penalty was saved as Dudek dived to his right to save the shot. Cisse scored his penalty to put Liverpool 2–0 up, and Tomasson scored Milan's next penalty to reduce the deficit. Riise was next for Liverpool, but his penalty was saved by Dida, Kaka scored the subsequent penalty to level the scores at 2–2. Vladimír Šmicer was next for Liverpool and scored to give them a one goal advantage. Shevchenko who had scored the winning penalty in the 2003 final had to score or Liverpool won. He hit his penalty straight down the middle of the goal. Dudek went down to his right but his raised left foot blocked the shot, to ensure Liverpool won 3–2 and claimed their fifth European Cup.

By winning the European Cup/Champions League a fifth time Liverpool earned the privilege of the UEFA badge of honour. Under normal competition rules the winning club gets to keep the trophy for only 10 months, as they must deliver it to UEFA two months before the next year's final, but they do receive a scaled-down replica to keep. However, in this case the rules specified that the trophy became the permanent possession of Liverpool because it was their fifth European Cup. The 2005–06 participants competed for a new (identical) trophy.

As a result of winning the competition Liverpool would face CSKA Moscow the winners of the UEFA Cup, in the UEFA Super Cup. The subsequent match played on the 26 August was won 3–1 by Liverpool after extra time. Their success also meant they would participate in the FIFA Club World Cup. They were awarded a bye in the first round and faced Deportivo Saprissa in the semi-final winning 3–0. They faced Copa Libertadores champions São Paulo in the final losing 1–0, despite having three goals disallowed.

Liverpool celebrated their fifth European Cup victory by parading the trophy around Liverpool in an open-top double decker bus the day after the final. They were cheered by approximately 1,000,000 fans as they toured the city, with 300,000 of those fans located around St George's Hall the final destination of the parade. Business experts estimated that one in five workers took time off following the victory, after partying all night, and many Everton fans were said to have taken the day off work to escape their colleagues jibes about Liverpool's victory. It was also estimated that Liverpudlians had drunk 10,000 bottles of champagne celebrating the victory, with supermarket chain Sainsbury's stating: "We've never seen anything like it. We would usually expect to sell this much champagne at Christmas".

Liverpool manager Rafael Benítez admitted after the match that the manner of his side's victory had stunned him: "My problem is that I don't have words to express the things that I feel at this moment," he said after the match". Benítez was also prepared to break up his winning side after the final with a number of players expected to leave the club to make way for new arrivals. One of those leaving was Vladimír Šmicer who had scored Liverpool's second goal, his contract was up at the end of the season. Dietmar Hamann was in the same situation, with Milan Baroš and Igor Bišćan expected to leave as well.

Meanwhile Milan were amazed at how they had lost the final after leading 3–0 at half-time, manager Carlo Ancelotti blamed a crazy period of play for their defeat: "We had six minutes of madness in which we threw away the position we had reached until then". The result compounded Milan's failure to win Serie A a week before the match, their draw away to Palermo meant Juventus became Italian champions. Vice-President Adriano Galliani played down the events though stating: ""Even if we come second in the league, and second in the Champions League, this is not a disastrous season for us". Captain Paolo Maldini was less optimistic stating that this was a "huge disappointment", but that he added that Milan would accept the defeat and "go out with their heads high".

Much of the discussion after the final was about the future of Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard who had been linked with a move to rivals Cheslea. He gave a clue about his future intention stating: "How can I think of leaving Liverpool after a night like this?". Contract talks were slow to take place and it seemed like Gerrard would move to Chelsea, after his agent Stuart Marshall admitted talks had broken and that they were "unlikely to be re-opened". Days later Gerrard confirmed that he wanted to leave Liverpool, citing the events of the five or six weeks after the victory as the reason. The next day however Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry released a statement confirming that Gerrard had decided to stay at Anfield. Gerrard signed a new four year contract on 8 July to end the speculation over his future.

Despite winning the competition Liverpool's place in next season's Champions League was still in doubt. They faced a three week wait to discover if they would be allowed to defend their title. UEFA were to meet at Manchester on 17 June to decide their fate. A decision was made a week earlier on 10 June with UEFA confirming that Liverpool would be able to compete in the Champions League. The UEFA Executive Committee amended the regulations for future competitions so that the holders will have the right to defend their title and therefore qualify automatically. Liverpool were entered into the First Qualifying round, and were given no "country protection" meaning they could face another English club at any stage of the competition.

To the top

Stanley Park Stadium

New LFC Stadium.jpg

Stanley Park Stadium is a proposed title of the planned football stadium to be built in Stanley Park, Liverpool, England. The stadium was given planning permission in February 2003. The new stadium was scheduled to open in August 2012 with a capacity of 60,000, however construction has been halted until economic conditions improve.

The stadium, was initially scheduled to open in 2006 , with the capacity of approximately 55,000 seats, plans were later revised to increase the capacity to 60,000 with the option to expand to 71,000 if necessary.

It will be anchored by an expanded 18,500-seat standalone Kop, an increase of more than 5,000 seats. The parabolic roof of the Kop stand is designed to focus the supporters' volume towards the pitch. The stadium is arranged in a traditional 4 stand configuration, bringing supporters closer to the pitch than in modern bowl stadia. If built in time, the stadium could be used to host matches at the 2018 World Cup, should England win the right to host the tournament.

It has been reported that, should funding prove sufficiently difficult to acquire, there is a possibility that the stadium will be co-financed by Everton FC, who are also looking into the possibility of a controversial new stadium in Kirkby, although this has been strenuously denied by Liverpool's co-owner Tom Hicks.

The stadium was given final planning permission on 19 June 2008 and construction began on 24 June 2008.

Construction was expected to begin in 2008, Liverpool Chief Executive Rick Parry announced on 5 October 2008 that although the stadium would still be built, work would be delayed until economic conditions improve. Preliminary work on the ground began in 2008 following the City Council's approval of the plans in May, and the stadium was due to be finished by 2011. There is currently no official date for resumption of construction or completion.

To the top

Source : Wikipedia