Dubai: Football clubs in the UAE stand to benefit if they stick to the time-tested principles of respect, hard work and focus to a cause, according to a top official from the English Premier League.
Rick Parry, former CEO of Liverpool FC from 1998 to 2009, who was in Dubai to speak at the day-long conference on initiating action toward commercial sustainability for UAE football clubs, stressed that the success of clubs is directly linked to core values and principles.
“While good governance is the key, we need to make things happen and bring about change. Change is always tough, but we ought to do certain things and step outside our comfort zone and make things happen. It is as simple as that,” Parry told Gulf News after yesterday’s conference at Jumeirah Mina A’Salaam Hotel.
“There were no titles at Liverpool since 1990, and this was something that a genuine fan could never put up with when compared to what the club had achieved in the 1980s. When I took over, Liverpool FC didn’t even have a website and this was pretty astonishing. We had to bring about change. We needed to bring about dramatic change, and the first step we took in this direction was to bring in a foreign coach [Gerard Houllier],” he added.
Founded in 1892, Liverpool has established itself as a major force in world football especially in the 1970s and 80s when names like Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley were household words — leading the club to 11 League titles and seven European trophies. However, their last major success came way back in 2005 when The Reds won their fifth European Championship in Istanbul with Rafael Benitez as coach and Steven Gerrard as captain.
“All that we achieved as a famous and successful club is because we believed in core principles and values across the board,” Parry said.
“The club today can boast of 3 Uefa Cups, 3 Uefa Super Cups, 18 League titles, 7 FA Cups, 8 League Cups and 15 FA Community Shields. No other club anywhere else in the world can match these achievements. But we have to remember that the seeds of success were laid when Houllier took over and brought in a totally different culture in club football,” he added.
The ripple effect was instant with the total revenue of the 22 Premier League clubs at the end of the 2016-17 season showing a 27-fold increase to more than £4.55 billion (Dh21.5 billion) from the £170 million recorded at the end of the 1991-’92 season.
“For us at Liverpool it was all about respect. That was the core word on which the club and everyone else rotated on. Gerard [Houllier] applied the rules that were related to the values of our club. For example, he was the first to ensure there were no mobile phones either on the training ground or on the bus. Everyone had to think about the team first. I am sure we can apply similar principles and values at UAE clubs as well,” he added.