IT HAS long been said that the way to make a small fortune in sport is to invest a large one up front. Having lucratively cashed in his chips in the world of electronics, Duncan Smillie can afford a modicum of frivolity. Enthused and engaged, the businessman confirmed his purchase of a 50 per cent stake in Glasgow Rocks yesterday from the club’s long-time chairman Ian Reid. But, the newcomer stressed, this is not a rich man’s whimsy.

His office within the Emirates Arena is already operational. Deals will be sought, further backers procured. The 45-year-old has purposeful plans for the British Basketball League outfit. “I’ll be getting right into this and be visible,” he proclaimed on a first day spent introducing himself to both players and staff. Initially, there will be listening and learning, the Scot confirmed. Inevitably, via that process, follows understanding, then upgrades.

Reid will remain on its board following two decades of guiding the Rocks through a troubled conception in Edinburgh that was almost stymied by bankruptcy, to a move westward that pushed them towards safer and more stable ground.

However, in tandem with co-owner David Low, it will now fall to Smillie to resolve the not insignificant problem of delivering silverware on a regular basis. A laudable swathe of community involvement that sends players into schools weekly to preach healthy lifestyles will continue. But a single play-off title is a poor return from what has generally been a competitive budget, more so that the side have nine times been losers in major finals. Trophies, he asserted, will become paramount.

“I do not like losing. I want to be part of something successful here. I imagine it was important in the past but I want this franchise to get success. And it’s easy to measure. It’s shiny and silvery and you hold it up. You get a championship at the end of the season. It’s one of the things I like. In a lot of businesses, it’s hard to measure to success. Not so much here.”

Davis, appropriately, received an immediate vote of confidence. With one year left on his current contract, he will be given time to impress and – Smillie pledged – the extra resources he has craved. The Rocks briefly looked like championship contenders this term before a spate of injuries proved fatal. A little extra, the American has argued, would go a long way.

And an enlarged squad will be essential if one of the newcomer’s other goals is to be realised. “First things first,” Smillie cautioned. “We want to be the best team in this league. But my ultimate ambition for this franchise is to play in some European format. I can’t put a timeline on it. But it’s absolutely my ambition to go into European basketball.”

One step at a time. Reid has witnessed the fortunes of the BBL ebb and flow, from a boom of arena-based franchises living beyond their means, to the inevitable bust and retrenchment. A modest TV deal with the BBC and the involvement of snooker and darts magnet Barry Hearn in a new pre-season venture are symptoms of a modest recovery. No-one is getting rich, just yet, but it is no longer a money pit with black smoke funnelling out.

“There’s been a few false dawns for basketball,” Smillie acknowledged. “I got into watching it on Channel 4 in the eighties with guys like Alton Byrd. I used to enjoy watching it. It was always going to be the next big sport. Forget the States but you see how big it is elsewhere in Europe. It feels like a good time to invest.”