Eddie McGuire is slowly starting to find out that his great mate Brad Cooper is proving to be more trouble than he’s worth. Eddie should pick his friends more carefully, rather than just blindly moving in with the James Packer rat-pack.

For instance, check out this fascinating read by Liz Sexton in the Weekend SMH by clicking here.

The Daily Telegraph/Herald Sun and The Australian also worked up good reads for their Saturday editions, although it was notable that Eddie McGuire failed to mention his great mate in his Herald Sun column.

The Tele/Hun piece by Peter Gosnell revealed that Cooper used to steal cars as a teenager, left school at 13 and was packed off to Perth by his mother when 15 with just $119 in his pocket.

After trying his hand at a few things, he collected $250,000 in 1979 from the sale of three jeans stores he’d built up by the age of 20, after which he headed to Sydney.

After buying a home in trendy Balmoral, Cooper started a cards and coupon books business which racked up $160,000 in debts, sparking a 5-month retreat to an island off Cairns before he started selling burglar alarms door to door in Newcastle.

This is how he fell into the Packer rat-pack because James’s old school mate Rodney Adler agreed to bankroll Cooper into creating FAI Home Security which dovetailed with the burglar insurance business.

The motivational speaking side of things emerged through another Packer ratpack mate in John McGrath, the eastern suburbs real estate salesman.

McGrath will probably soon regret endorsing Cooper as “Australia’s best keynote speaker”. What a stupid thing to say about a dodgy and doomed entrepreneur who has cost HIH policyholders an estimated $100 million.

Then again, his motivational tapes sold an estimated $5 million and will undoubtedly become collector’s items. Could someone send one to PO Box 318, South Melbourne 3205.

Geoff Elliott got in right in The Weekend Australian when he predicted that Cooper will become the “flag-bearer for all that was wrong with the easy money and fast times of the booming 1990s”.

Elliott also told the stories of parties that Cooper organised on private train trips from Brisbane to Sydney but you’ll have to be a subscriber to find out what actually happened on these trips.

The Oz also quoted Eddie McGuire saying that he was prepared to break noses to keep his great mate Brad Cooper on the Collingwood board. He’s long going to regret that one.

The Tele also challenged Cooper’s claim to have been a roadie with AC/DC, quoting the band’s veteran manager Michael Browning saying he’d never heard of Cooper.

Now, let’s take our coverage on Eddie, HIH, Brad Cooper and Collingwood to this subscriber’s description of The Footy Show on Thursday night before getting into our earlier sealed sections.

Eddie fails the conflict of interest test again

G’day Crikey,

After nearly 30 minutes (no ads) of Eddie spin, fawning over Nathan, Collingwood and more COLLINGWOOD, I gave up on tonight’s Footy Show. The program reminds me of a certain type of southern fried chicken: I unaccountably liked it long ago, but now I only try it once in a while, and each time I do it confirms just how bloody awful it is.

As the biggest football story of the day, one would expect the Footy Show to cover the COLLINGWOOD/HIH scandal (unlike AFL.com.au, who still haven’t touched the issue). Eddie’s spin however, was tedious, repetitive and predictable. Despite looking serious and furrowing his brow a lot (pretty difficult given the amount of botox up there) Sam’s questioning was about as limp as a Colonial Stadium french-fry, and Eddie made it pretty clear he wanted to give the whole of his long, rambling statement before any questions.

Amazingly, a good 5 minutes of this was to whine about a photographer from The Australian who had the gall to take a snap of him as he passed the gate of the channel 9 studio tonight. (I wonder if Eddie’s going to call for his head tomorrow, just like the hapless afl.com.au journos who dared put up a poll questioning the barely contained barracking he calls football calling whenever Collingwood are playing?)

Absolutely no mention by Eddie or anyone else of the latest development in the story, that the letter confirming the sponsorship was doctored to look like the deal was months in the making, rather than set up days before the insurer went belly-up.

In any case, Eddie then quickly moved us on to a brighter fluff piece, a club moving its HQ. Unsurprisingly, the club happens to be COLLINGWOOD, and we even got lots of lovely sketches of their new base at Olympic Park. Somehow this lead to a smug Eddie announcing “The MCG is now Collingwood’s”, his megalomaniacal delusions helping him forget that that his club is actually just the last of long line of tenants to play there.

Sam then appeared to do his master’s bidding by launching what seemed to be an ill-prepared and certainly was an incoherent attack on Patrick Smith’s coverage of COLLINGWOOD captain Nathan Buckley’s blood scandal. Coincidentally, Smithy just happens to write for The Australian, the same paper who dared take Eddie’s photo earlier that night.

By now I was bloody sick of COLLINGWOOD (there had also been a weak gag about COLLINGWOOD’s Nathan Buckley leaving a Christ-like Shroud of Turinish imprint on Cameron Ling’s jumper, mildly amusing, but again indicative of the show’s incessant fawning and drooling over the COLLINGWOOD captain). Fortunately the show then got on the serious side of things and actually talked about football: however, what was the first game discussed?

You guessed it, Richmond v COLLINGWOOD!

If that wasn’t enough COLLINGWOOD propaganda for one night, just before the real ad break Eddie wound up with an advertorial about a limited edition COLLINGWOOD Hall of Fame print. There were a few quick grabs of the club legends depicted, but by far the longest, lingering shot was of the stern likeness of a certain double-chinned multi-hatted club president – didn’t notice if Alan McAlister earned a spot on the painting, but at present count, his administration has exactly one flag more than the young pup who took over from him.

The Footy Show is now little more than a platform for Eddie to relentlessly push COLLINGWOOD, and peddle his own spin about the conflicts he’s embroiled in. Just like the KFC drive-thru, I don’t think I’ll be back for a long while.

Cheers, MrMOB

Now, let’s go back and have a look at how this story unfolded this week, opening with our sealed section from Monday, July 16:

BRAD COOPER FINGERED AT THE HIH ROYAL COMMISSION

Crullers writes:

And talking of colourful Sydney business types, one time HIH/FAI director, motivational speaker, Collingwood Football Club vice-president and (still, we believe) great mate of Eddie McGuire was yesterday fingered at the HIH Royal Commission.

Cooper, Rodney Adler and Ray Williams were alleged to have been part of several transactions that “bear many similarities” to the one for which Adler and Williams went to court.

We called for Cooper to be dumped from the Collingwood board last year, saying in our write up of the AGM:

“The other issues we raised included colourful Sydney-based director Brad Cooper who only made 9 out of 13 meetings and is caught up heavily in the HIH collapse.

McGuire defended Cooper’s attendance record due to his recent business troubles and said he is attempting to put his affairs back in order in London at the moment.

And the audience didn’t want to hear a bad word for Cooper given that he lent the club $1.5 million interest free for 3 weeks during the year and also paid $100,000 to bring Jimmy Barnes down from Sydney to perform at the MCG during a Collingwood game this year.

Eddie said he wouldn’t have minded it he’d danced on the roof but we would just like to point out that the interest free $1.5 million loan for three weeks saved Collingwood about $10,000 so it is nothing to write home about.”

Then in May this year, Collingwood announced Cooper’s resignation from the Board, citing his business commitments. In a gushing cynically timed press release, Eddie Everywhere praised his mate Cooper’s contribution to the board.

Wonder what Eddie thinks of Cooper’s business credentials now?

ends

Later on Tuesday, we sent out a second update which included this piece:

COLLINGWOOD FOOTBALL CLUB $250,000 THE POORER?

The HIH Royal Commission gets more and more interesting with Eddie McGuire’s colourful Sydney business identity mate, Brad Cooper, having his dirty linen aired over the last couple of days.

It was alleged in the Royal Commission today that HIH had given $250,000 to the Collingwood Football Club prior to the December 2000 contested election where Alex Waislitz and Brad Cooper’s mate, Eddie Everywhere, were seeking to fend off a challenge to their positions on the board.

Eddie apparently said at the time that HIH did not get much for it.

The “donation” it hardly seems to be a “sponsorship”, if HIH didn’t get much for it was apparently used to show to the club that Eddie’s colourful Sydney business identity chum would be good for drumming up corporate support from Sin City businesses.

Cooper of course, went on to become Vice President of the club, danced on the MCG when Barnesy was screeching, but resigned in May this year when his “business commitments” got too much to handle.

As we reported in this morning’s sealed section, Eddie gave Cooper glowing praise, both when announcing his departure from the board and when Crullers questioned Cooper’s worth as a board member at last year’s AGM (from which Cooper was absent).

Counsel assisting the Royal Commission has alleged that the “donation” was in breach of the HIH directors’ fiduciary duties and, as such, there is a suggestion that the Collingwood Football Club may have to pay the $250,000 back.

How will Mr Teflon explain this to club members?

ends

On Wednesday, July 17 subscribers were emailed the following:

EDDIE EVERYWHERE AND BRAD COOPER

The papers are today full of the HIH-Collingwood connection coming out of the Royal Commission. This story from The Age at the time is insightful as it demonstrates that Collingwood effectively collected the $2 million that came to Brad Cooper via HIH two days before it collapsed in March last year: click here to read.

It will be interesting to hear from the three defeated candidates in the contested Collingwood election of December 2000. This is what Eddie wrote in his Herald Sun column on December 9, three days before the AGM vote which Wayne Martin QC is now alleging needed $250,000 from HIH to help get the result Eddie was after:

By Eddie McGuire

Saturday, December 9, 2000

NEXT week’s election at the Collingwood Football Club should be interesting, to see how many turn up to vote, as much as the outcome.

During the past two years of my presidency, the board has changed the rules, now allowing social club members in the calendar year of the election to vote. In the past, you had to be a paid-up member for the following year.

This allows more than 8000 Magpie members to have their say — thousands more than previous years.

After two years with no election, three candidates are up against incumbents vice-president Brad Cooper, Alex Waislitz and Jack Kennedy.

They are financial adviser Paul Murphy, engineer Rick Sciessere and car dealer Nick Theodossi. All six have the best interests of Collingwood at heart and there is a role for all of them at the club. My fervent belief is that now is not the time to change for change’s sake. We have worked doggedly as a board to turn around what was almost a terminal financial position, and have done it in two years.

We have invested in youth as far as our on-field line up is concerned. Next year, Collingwood’s list will have an average age of 21 and not one is married.

But in going down the youth road, which obviously takes time to deliver the results we all want, we need to underpin the finances of the club.

That is what the board has to do and that is what Cooper, Waislitz and Kennedy have achieved and are in the best position to continue.

The job is not about coaching and recruiting but growing Collingwood’s business. The players, including all new recruits, will be training at 5pm, and a members’ Christmas BBQ will precede the annual general meeting.

Ends

And this is what he wrote the week after the vote:

“COLLINGWOOD members voted overwhelmingly this week to support coach Michael Malthouse, the board and the players in 2001. Candidates running against the incumbent board concentrated on an alleged poor recruiting record. So it was significant to see that the membership believe in the club’s view of rebuilding with youth.”

There are lots of Brad Cooper stories that Crikey would love to tell you in the fullness of time but we’ll just see how things play out in the Royal Commission first.

ends

Now, this is from Thursday’s sealed section:

EDDIE SHOULD MAKE HIH DONATION

Given that Eddie McGuire is worth about $10 million, we reckon the lad should personally make a $250,000 donation to the HIH liquidator after all that has come out in recent days about former Collingwood Vice President Brad “Snorter” Cooper.

Eddie was at his belligerent and defiant best yesterday but the relationship with Cooper is not going to do him any favours and it would be a stroke of PR genius to make a $250,000 contribution from his own pocket.

This would only require Eddie to sell 25,000 of his 300,000 PBL shares which are currently worth $2.7 million.

And Collingwood could easily afford it as they made a $1 million profit last year and booked $7 million in sponsorship revenue, more than double any other club. If they can get money out of a collapsing insurance giant then they get money out of anything so the Club could comfortably come up with the cash.

The Herald Sun did well yesterday to track down one of the defeated candidates but the Age and Fin Review coverage was a bit thin. What a day for Andrew Main not to be at the Royal Commission for the Fin.

And Crikey’s old flat mate Andrew White, covering the RC for The Australian, made his television debut with a 7.10am interview with Steve Liebmann on Today. Whitey has never got up that early in his life.

ends

And this is what subscribers received on Friday morning:

COLLINGWOOD’S HIH WORRIES

Yesterday’s evidence in the HIH Royal Commission sees Eddie Everywhere’s Collingwood Football Club look ever more likely to be compelled to pay back a $250,000 sponsorship deal signed off in HIH’s dying days.

Former HIH finance manager, Bill Howard, admitted that he signed a letter which he knew to be false, but said “I was doing what I was asked” by Eddie’s mate, Brad “snorter” Cooper.

Cooper drafted the letter, but Howard signed it even though he knew it falsely stated details about the Collingwood sponsorship arrangement, saying that HIH had committed to the sponsorship some six months earlier in the year.

He also thought it was “possibly” linked to a dodgy share deal where Cooper had agreed to increase the amount he was prepared to pay for HIH shares.

Eddie had earlier used this letter to prove that the Magpies’ sponsorship deal with HIH was bona fide.

While this is still three steps away from proving any wrong doing on the part of the Maggies, if HIH directors were found to be in breach of their duty, the Pies can be compelled to pay the dough back.

We repeat our call from yesterday for Eddie to pull the PR stunt to end all PR stunts and voluntarily pay back the dough to the HIH liquidator.

Eddie put on quite a performance at the beginning of The Footy Show last night speaking for what seemed like ten minutes uninterrupted defending his position.

He gave The Australian a spray for taking photographs of him as he left Channel Nine and it sounds like there may have been quite a scene. Check The Oz today for the pix.

Peter Fray

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