The missed opportunity that was Robert Sarver

Robert Sarver, courtesy of Michael Chow

As you know, an exasperated Robert Sarver kicked off the week by withdrawing his interest in purchasing a controlling interest in Rangers, after the board failed to engage the Phoenix Suns owner in any meaningful negotiations.

This was a real missed opportunity for Rangers Football Club.

Obviously with the current juxtaposition of major share holders, his bid was unfortunately a long-shot with different parties more concerned with their own interests.  However, with their inaction, the board have been quite transparent in the fact that their own interests take a priority over the health of the club.  This is not breaking news for anyone who has been paying attention in recent times.

Moving forward, the Three Bears & Dave King offer the best chance of the club finally coming under the controls of individuals who will put the club’s interests above any personal gain.  It is imperative that this happens – the cry to get the club back in the hands of ‘Rangers men’ is urgent here & rightfully so.

But it is shortsighted to claim that it should take precedent over Sarver’s interest.  Sarver clearly is not a Rangers man – heck, it’s doubtful he had ever heard of the club six months ago, but he still could have transformed Rangers into the model franchise that would live up to the standards set by the club’s illustrious history.

In his interview with Sky Sports, Sarver outlined some of the basic plans he had for the club.  “Listen, there are no guarantees of success in sport.”

“All you can do is put your best foot forward, make sure your club is capitalised properly and put the best coaching staff in place to make the best decisions — give it your best shot.”

“That’s what I was prepared to do.”

This is leadership 101 – put in place the best pieces to craft success in a positive atmosphere.  Is it a coincidence that Sarver’s interest came at the same time as speculation that the club was preparing an offer to one of Europe’s brightest coaching prospects, Ian Cathro?  

Lee Wallace, courtesy of Jeff J Mitchell (Getty Images)

“My plan was to kind of permanently capitalise the club over the next two to three years — so it had the best chances of being successful and getting back to being one of the top two teams in the Scottish league.  The thing about these sports clubs is you may own them — but they really belong to the community. So you are really more of a custodian.”

“It’s all about winning. That’s the only reason you get involved in professional sport.”

This goes back to my original claim about Sarver, that as a typical American professional sports owner – the bottom line is not rooted in lining their own pockets.  The chance to run a sports organization is a feather in the cap & a chance to become one of the most well-known & ultimately important members of a community.  The Phoenix Suns are among the healthiest franchises in the NBA, yet Sarver’s profit is roughly $13 million annually.  Chump change compared to his real income creator – banking.

“It’s full transparency — and all about winning, creating sustained success.”

Rangers supporters, like any fan base, want transparency from the leadership of their team in which they pour their time, money, & soul into.  Sarver has been deliberately forthright throughout this process.  From discussing the root of his interest in Rangers through his relationship with David Robertson to immediately addressing rumours linking him to Mike Ashley, Sarver has put on public record his intentions & his motives for them.

“I was just really trying to be helpful to the club and the fans, and say: ‘Hey, I’ll bring in a bunch of capital. And we do have some pretty good expertise here at the Suns.'”

“There are a lot of areas I thought we could help in. Our strength and conditioning, our experience with fan engagement and interaction, our analytics group and things like that.  And let’s combine that with a world-class coach, manager, and executive, and let’s give the team the best possible chance.”

Can Dave King & the Three Kings promise this?  Realistically, can the conservative nature that comes with being ‘Ranger men’  truly provide what Sarver outlined above?

Ian Black, courtesy of SNS

Imagine the Ian Black’s shock if he had to embrace the strength & conditioning philosophy employed by the Suns.  No more biscuits at half-time…that’s blasphemy!

The employment of fan engagement on the levels of an American sports franchise would be a breath of fresh air for Rangers.  Think about the young Rangers fan – 11, 12, 13 years old.  Think about the woefully tedious football he/she has been spoon-fed over the fast few years.  Think of the youngster who only knows of Ally McCoist as the architect of a squad & playing style that has set the club back at least five years.  Their only memory of McCoist as a legend in through grainy clips on YouTube.  Something needs to be done to regain the trust of lifelong fans & efforts need to be in place to create a new legacy for those younger supporters.

courtesy of @MC_of_A

Lastly, the fact that a potential controlling interest of Rangers actually uttered the word “analytics” in the context of football preparation is jaw dropping.  Scottish football is a roughly ten years behind the curve when it pertains to advanced stats & analytics to identify affordable, overlooked talent or in the analysis of team performances.  It is the norm in most major leagues & other sports.  The NBA was ahead of American sports when it comes to analytics, while advanced stats has become a game changer in the National Hockey League.  NHL teams have actually turned to hiring analytics bloggers to gain a competitive edge.  Keep that in mind when Kenny McDowall lines up in a 4-4-2 with the likes of Steven Smith, Kenny Miller, & Dean Shiels being relied upon to take on a Hearts club that likely is among the few Scottish clubs using analytics in the crafting of its playing squad & its matchday tactics.

Sarver’s interest in Rangers was genuine & his impact would have been transformative.  The Three Bears & King are currently the best hope for the club to approach normalcy again but it is doubtful that they are prepared to take the club to a transformative level.  Obviously, the bottom line is anything is better then the current situation but a real opportunity is being missed in the interest coming from Robert Sarver.



5 thoughts on “The missed opportunity that was Robert Sarver

  1. A good article wasted by your obvious hatred of Ian Black.

    Not for the first time you couldn’t resist a sly dig at a guy who for your information is the first guy in for training and the last to leave.

    If your going to criticise make sure you have all the facts to hand.


  2. I could not agree more with your sentiments. Robert Sarver would have provided Rangers with both the financial clout and an American winning philosophy.


    1. LOL. what winning philosophy? His NBA franchise has been mediocrity personified during his stewardship, and he hasn’t brought in any expensive big name free agents.


  3. I too think it would have been good for the club , but because of the way the shares are set up ,it was never going to happen .Mr Sarver would have needed to purchase at least 51% of the shares to get control and to do that he would have had to get 2 or 3 of the big shareholders to sell to him .The 3 Bears and Mr King have just bought their shares and were never going to sell , Ashley won`t sell and the hedge funds won`t sell at that price.I would love to think that once we get rid of the board maybe the new consortium running the club could find a way to get Mr Sarver involved .After all we need serious investment if we are to get anywhere near former glories.
    Although using Ian Black to emphasise your point was a bit naughty , your general point of criticising the unprofessional way the team are being managed and prepared for games is valid .The days of a cup of tea and a cake at half time have long since gone and if reports are true it is ridiculous that our players are doing these things .Look at Hearts , training sessions twice a day , organising training days to get used to plastic pitches ..they are doing all the things that a professional Rangers should be doing , but then again they obviously did not think the league would be easy and are treating it with full respect.


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