The Daily Telegraph trumpeted it as the busiest day since Super League and now rather ironically the man who brought rugby league back from the precipice of its biggest war will look to bring football into the future.
David Gallop has his detractors, often vocal and overly critical, but in that regard he is no different than any other sporting CEO or administrator, with perhaps the exception being the AFL’s Andrew Demetriou, regarded as the best in this country.
Those who dislike Gallop point to the previous NRL TV rights deal as a failure, especially given the billion-dollar windfall that code has just received.
Manly fans point to his refusal to apologise to Brett Stewart for suspending him upon suspicion, after sexual assault charges were filed against the then NSW fullback. Gallop’s reported take was that Stewart was allegedly so drunk in a public place, that as the face of the game he did serious damage to its image.
The fact the only words they have spoken to each other were after the 2011 Grand Final and went along the lines of “you owe me an apology”, tells you that Gallop isn’t afraid to speak his mind or stick to his guns, in short he has serious backbone.
Make no mistake, Gallop is a strong man and that will be for the good of football in this country.
It takes a strong man to go through what he went through on an almost weekly basis in the NRL, from alleged criminal incidents and anti-social off-field behaviour, constant contentious refereeing decisions, every Todd Carney indiscretion and two major salary cap scandals, Gallop came through it all.
His hard-line stance against the Storm, their CEO Brian Waldron and their sustained and systematic rorting of the salary cap, which resulted in him stripping them of their competition points and the titles they won during that period was brave, but ultimately the right decision and to the betterment of the NRL.
Not only was he the code’s moral compass but he oversaw a period of growth in that code that made his time there the most successful rugby league has ever seen; if he can bring that sort of success to the A-League and football in general, all doubts about him not being a “football person” will be washed away.
As NRL CEO, Gallop wasn’t afraid of change either; he approved the switch to two on-field officials, expanded the competition by reinstating South Sydney and Gold Coast and brought in golden point. Who knows, under Gallop goal-line technology might be implemented to football in this country.
Perhaps his skills as an administrator are best surmised by a former colleague of mine, Fox Sports’ Christopher Sutton, who wrote the following about Gallop's time as NRL CEO.
“Gallop is the most successful rugby league administrator of all time. The state of the game tells us so.
“Crowds, television audiences, commercial sponsorship and grass-roots participation both in the game's heartland and across state borders have never been this good.
“That may be by virtue of running the show in an era of heightened technological and economic opportunity, but the facts state that the game under Gallop is far more successful than at any other time.”
If Gallop can replicate the success of his tenure with the NRL, football might just be happy to have another ‘non-football’ CEO.
The views in this article are those of the author and not Football Federation Australia or the Hyundai A-League