Tony Larvin's vision for Hull KR: 'We'll get to the top and stay there'
TONY Larvin recalls the look on chairman Neil Hudgell's face as he describes the moment he revealed how much he wanted to invest into Hull KR.
"I had a figure in my head of what I wanted to invest, and when I told Neil the figure in mind he pretty much fell off his chair," reveals the 48-year-old.
"Once we damped him down with a wet cloth and brought him round, we started talking about how it would work."
That talking has been ongoing for close to three months now, and now, Larvin says the deal is all but done.
CAR KEYS AND REMOTES "FREE REMOTE KEY FOB BATTERY" 01482 423414 ...View details
FOR ALL YOUR CAR KEY NEEDS CALL US NOW ON
SNAPPED KEYS, LOST KEYS, KEYS LOCKED IN VEHICLES,
WE ALSO REPAIR 90% OF ALL REMOTES AND KEYS, NO FIX NO CHARGE.
Terms: FREE REMOTE KEY FOB BATTERY ONE PER CUSTOMER
Contact: 01482 423414
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
He promises that the first installment of his cash – a figure of £5m – will soon be sat in the Robins bank account, and that more of its like is to follow.
Long-standing debts will be cleared, and for the first time in many years, Rovers will be looking ahead, not over their shoulders.
The ultimate aim? To become Super League champions, and as quickly as possible.
"My aim is to get the club back to where it should be, like the glory days, winning titles and playing in cup finals," Larvin told the Mail.
"For me, I am not into big titles, and although I will effectively be the club owner, it is not about that at all.
"I am happy to put my investment into the club and let the guys who know what they are doing keep running it as they have been. I am happy to be in the background.
"Nothing will change, they will just have more facilities at hand, and we can expect better results for the club.
"Neil's not handing the club over to me, and it's not about me owning the club.
"It's about me giving them the opportunity to give the club back to the fans and also take it back up to where it should be. I guess officially I will own it, but that's neither here nor there.
"It's about where we want to take the club together."
Larvin has stirred the flames over his planned investment over the past few weeks by dipping into the world of Twitter.
Using the hashtag 'Robinsrevolution', he has promised top-class facilities and a top-class Super League team.
More on Tony Larvin's 'Robins Revolution'
Having prepared for this season on a tight budget, his words will be music to coach Craig Sandercock's ears.
"We will go out and start looking at making improvements to the squad and bringing in some marquee players for 2014," he says.
"We will also get the gym done, get the academy up and running properly and start some proper building of the club's future.
"I spoke to Neil and he is happy to stay on as chairman, and Rob will stay on too. They just won't need to put their money in any more. That's not needed.
"This next season is going to be our platform building season."
Brought up in east Hull, Larvin admits he was 'not the most academic' and left David Lister School with no qualifications to his name.
An aspiring rugby star, he actually represented the Robins at Colts and A-team level in the 1980s, before heading to play in Australia. There, he was used as a winger or centre – to 'keep him out of the way' – and soon recognised rugby was not going to provide a living.
He says he 'fell into the financial industry', becoming the European partner for a US investment banker who was reluctant to fly after 9/11.
It was that which ultimately led him to be involved with the ill-fated investment company Cashback Promotions in Spain, a company supposedly investing on behalf of timeshare clients, with a promise of their money back after five years.
It is that association which has caused the greatest concern over his interest in the Robins, especially with fans on Twitter, and Internet forums.
"Basically, the best part of £9m in clients' funds went missing and a fellow director tried to blame me," Larvin explained.
"They were completely false accusations and I have spent a long time, and a lot of money, clearing my name. There is still plenty of stuff on the Internet which I am sure people will look at and choose to believe, but the stuff on there is completely untrue.
"Unfortunately, you can't stop people putting it up and it takes a hell of a lot of work through lawyers to try and get lies like that taken off."
Although he went on to work in financial markets in the US and India afterwards, the matter still hung over Larvin.
Last year, he was arrested when returning to the UK at Easter as claims continued to be made through the Spanish courts.
"Through personal circumstances I came back to take care of my father," he says.
"Unbeknown to myself, I had missed a court appearance in Spain that I should have attended, so a European arrest warrant was issued, and last Easter Sunday I was picked up when I came back from Spain, and from then until mid-August I was on remand in Wandsworth Prison.
"They were talking about extraditing me back to answer to the courts, but I finally I managed to secure a High Court hearing, where the judge quashed any possible extradition as I have no case to answer. I have the paper work to show that."
Despite feeling he has now finally cleared his name, Larvin says the five months behind bars felt like 'the end of the world'.
"It's not the Marriott and the room service left a lot to be desired," he joked when asked about the conditions.
"It felt like the end of the world at the time though. It took me two weeks just to get my shoe laces back for my trainers. That was without trying to start to get telephone numbers and contact the outside world.
"You lose every human right, when you shower, when you can use the telephone, everything. I spent 22 hours of the day locked up and the only exercise I got was from 8am until 8.30am out on the yard."
So, where have his masses of money come from?
Larvin says from being 'ridiculously well paid' working in the big financial markets.
Asked how much he is actually worth, he keeps that to himself.
Why the Robins? "Why not?" is the answer.
"I am an east Hull lad," he says.
"I am staying at my parents recently as my dad has not been well and has been waiting for a pace-maker to be fitted.
"I'm looking to buy a house in the area because of the commitment I am making to the club. At present I have a house down south.
"Going forward, as long as everybody has the will and desire to keep on winning, I will keep financing the club and be around."
So, east-Hull born and bred, and a former KR player himself, what does Larvin expect when it comes to going head-to-head with Hull FC in the years to come?
"To be honest, once we do what we need to do, Hull will become inconsequential to us," he says.
"We won't be majoring on minor things any more, and that is what they are to us going forward.
"They are not going to be our main priority.
"Our main priority is going to be getting up to the top of the table and staying there, and that is exactly what we will do."