Will NRL fans keep trusting Searle?
Kade Snowden fends off Mark Minichiello : Round 25 Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks V Gold Coast Titans National Rugby League match at Toyota Stadium, Cronulla, Saturday August 28th 2010. Digital Pic by Robb Cox Â© Action Photographics.
I never really bought into the Searle brilliance; if every person with an accounting degree was a business genius then the world would have 30 million Apple corporations.
I think he is, unfortunately, just a man found out of depth, someone who took on too much risk without really realising what he was doing.
Searle has since proven himself worse than that a snake-oil peddler extreme.
He’s a liar who designed the blue print for rugby league going forward.
Yes, many will argue that some very smart people lost money during the Global Financial Crisis.
But the most common loser was the punter with a high-risk tolerance but no appreciation for risk management.
Storm Financial was a great case; the intellectual equivalent to a Lego block with a financial strategy that even cursory analysis saw was flawed.
But they were great salesmen, convincing people with limited financial knowledge to follow them off the cliff at a higher cost than any other financial adviser I’ve ever heard of.
This is the common thread they hold with Searle.
Coming into the collapse of the Titans he repeatedly said that the property trust and the football club were different legal entities.
His implication was that the separation of legal entities meant a separation of commercial consequence.
Of course, both he and anyone with a month’s experience with debt arrangement knew this was at best furphy, at worst outright fraud.
Even Ken Lay at Enron was more upfront than Searle about commercial relationships.
Searle convinced the ignorant layman that in no way would the failure of the property trust affect the football club.
That fairytale was fun whilst it lasted.
Now it has played out that the commercial relationship between the two entities, which was clearly known to Searle at the time of his comments, leaves the Titans on death’s door.
For this act of deception I firmly believe he shouldn’t ever be allowed to be the director of a company again.
But given the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s stunning inability to even pin decent charges against the worst offenders in corporate Australia I think Searle feels relatively comfortable about his future potential to fleece people on the Gold Coast.
When coming into then-NRL Searle delivered a soliloquy on how the Gold Coast had changed and how it was the best city in Australia for spotting a fraud and shutting them down.
I wonder how much he was laughing on the inside as every journo and footy club CEO swallowed it whole.
Not only did they let him into the inner circle but they gave him the keys to the clubhouse.
Remember this fine upstanding moral pillar was the architect of the Independent Commission. A structure which just so happens to deliver owners of clubs disproportionate amounts of power and representation.
Now tell me, would one Michael Searle be one of those owners of a football club? Oh, what a coincidence.
Once again Searle is taking liberties with the English language with the word “independent”.
But hey, I’m sure rugby-league fans will continue to buy it, given how we’ve lapped it up to this point.
The very odd part for me is that those baying for Gallop’s blood over the whole Titans fiasco are the same blind sycophants that lauded Searle’s brilliance.
They suggested he’d be the best guiding hand for rugby league in the first place.
Gould and co. are like petulant teenagers blaming their parents for not teaching them common sense, rather than thinking that perhaps we are over matched in our current positions.
But hey, long live “independence” and the brains trust of the NRL.