DAVID Robertson has criticised Rangers for rejecting Robert Sarver’s takeover bid earlier this month and believes it proves that the current board are not acting in the best interests of the Ibrox club.
Former Rangers defender Robertson, speaking for the first time about his role in American banker Sarver’s attempts to buy the club, expressed his dismay at what he says was a “missed opportunity”.
Rangers twice spurned Sarver’s advances, the second of them a £20 million proposal with an immediate £6.5m loan, as they felt the necessary approval from 75 per cent of existing shareholders was unlikely to be secured. But Robertson insists a deal could have been done with the 53-year-old owner of the Phoenix Suns basketball franchise. Rangers remain in severe financial trouble, requiring emergency short-term funding amid a battle for boardroom control which has seen former director Dave King call a general meeting in a bid to oust the incumbent board who are effectively controlled by Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley.
“I know it was a fantastic opportunity for Rangers and I’m sure there could have been ways to make it work,” said Robertson. “There’s the shareholding piece of it, that didn’t work out, but if those guys really had Rangers at heart then they would have tried to find a way to make it work.
“When somebody like Robert Sarver comes along and knocks on your door, I find it hard to accept that they didn’t open the door and bring him in. I don’t know if people want to hold on to power at the club or whatever, but the way I think the shareholdings are, there’s a lot of small shareholdings that all add up. It’s a difficult situation. He needed 75 per cent and they felt they couldn’t have got that. But the shareholders really could have made it happen.
“I don’t know how far Robert would have gone, but he’s such an honest guy, whatever he says you can take as gospel. He had visions of getting Rangers back to where they were and even further than that. He’s never been negative towards Rangers or anything, he’s obviously disappointed the way it is, but he feels he’s the guy who could turn the place around. It’s a missed opportunity. I know there are a lot of clubs out there that would bite his arm off to bring him in.”
Robertson has been based in Phoenix since 2007 in his role as executive director of the Sereno Soccer Club. It was there, where Sarver’s sons play football, that he got to know the hugely successful chief executive of the Western Alliance bank.
“He’s just like any other parent, he stands on the sidelines and cheers his kids on,” said Robertson. “He’s a down-to-earth guy and he’s been very generous to our club at Sereno.
“It’s a good relationship I’ve got with him and it was actually by chance that he was talking about buying a football club in Europe. I mentioned Rangers and he took a big shine to it. He is by the book and straight talking. He’s not going to go around doing anything dodgy behind the scenes. He’s out in the open.
“With the Phoenix Suns, he’s had the franchise for ten years and invested a lot of money in every single aspect of it. They are on a fantastic run and he put all the infrastructure in place. He’s just a winner.
“He’s obviously got the wealth to invest in a club and at some point he will. But he’s also got the infrastructure.
“Whatever club he ends up at, he can certainly bring all that to the table. I know before I started talking to him, he was looking at other clubs in Spain and England. I mentioned Rangers and the problems they are in, and I think he’s the type of person they need. He’s the type of guy who wants to make a bad situation good. I think he would do whatever it would take.
“He was very, very serious about Rangers. He was prepared to invest a lot in it. He’s got the know-how of a pretty big sports franchise to implement a lot of stuff. On and off the field he could have done so much.”
• David Robertson was speaking at the Scottish FA’s Uefa Pro Licence course. Visit www.scottishfa.co.uk/coacheducation to join the coaching community.
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