JOHN Robertson says he has no knowledge if Ross Draper had been told to do submit a transfer request by the club’s board.
The Caley Jags boss said yesterday that in the end, allowing Draper to move to Ross County was the best for all parties and not keep a disgruntled player on board.
A club statement on Wednesday said that Draper handed in a transfer request but at his County unveiling, he said he was told to do so by the Caley Thistle board.
Robertson said when he was told of a transfer request it changed matters but claimed he had no idea whether Draper’s hand was forced to get the deal done.
“I don’t know (about discussions higher up). We were very honest with Ross and kept him abreast of the situation,” said Robertson. “There was a time where a bid is put in that reflects his true value. I don’t think any of the early bids did that.
“Credit to them for getting up to a very substantial offer which I didn’t think they would go to. Once Ross had tabled his transfer request it would have been futile to keep a player who had his head turned.
“The board and I discussed it and the transfer request was put in - that was the final part to draw a line under it and move on.
“We could have said no but then we’d have a very disgruntled player who wants to play in the Premiership. It was the best route for everyone.
“I’ve no problems with how he handled himself and hopefully he feels the same way. We thought the interest had gone and obviously County kept an eye on things – the bid came in before our first league match. Ross got his head down and played despite knowing that.
“The club has to stay financially viable – we’re still carrying big wages from last year, which is tough for a Championship club that won’t receive the TV money or gate revenue it has enjoyed.
“As much as it’s disappointing for staff and players and fans to lose a favourite, the wellbeing of the club has to come first.”
Robertson is still keen to manoeuvre in the transfer market but will only be given the wages freed up by Draper’s sale, not the “very substantial” six-figure transfer fee.
It has eased the pressure on David Raven and Owain Fon Williams to find moves away, although Robertson still does not have places for them in his long-term thinking.
“Nothing changes in the respect that they’re two of the high-earners that are not part of the plans,” he said.
“But we’ve said to David in particular that if he gets a move, we’ll support him. It’s the same with Owain – if they’re still here after deadline, they’ll come into the squad like everybody else.
“The wages it frees up will be available, so we will use that, but we have to be wary of how many we bring in.”
That means revisiting a move for Buckie Thistle captain Kevin Fraser is out of the question.
Inverness were involved in a well-publicised tussle with the Highland League champions last month and Robertson ruled out any future move for the former Caley Thistle youngster.
They do have Ivor Lawton on trial, the ex-Coventry City midfielder who trained with the club earlier in pre-season, but he is a way off earning a deal. He played in Tuesday’s bounce game with Strathspey Thistle.
“We’ve closed the door on that, with Buckie’s valuation being very steep and it’s unachievable, even with the money we’ve got from Ross. I wouldn’t be prepared to pay that type of money,” added Robertson.
Tomorrow’s game with Dunfermline will probably come too soon for Gary Warren, while Zak Elbouzedi and Carl Tremarco are both around four weeks away from returning. Aaron Doran is due back by November.
“Adding those four to the squad we’ve got at the moment, we may also look at one or two to bolster the squad and add quality and competition,” added Robertson.
On a personal level, Ross has always been great to deal with. No-nonsense on the pitch, gentleman off it.— Jamie Durent (@IC_JDurent) August 9, 2017