The Rugby Football League should be on the phone right now to David Gallop and offering him the role as RFL Chairman along with a sizable contract.
During David Gallops time in charge of the NRL he always pushed three major idea’s and never wavered on their importance.
Gallop resisted calls to raise the salary cap in the face of raids from others sports because the game simply could not afford it. Financial sustainability was always a goal Gallop never lost sight of. Keep in mind, he was the CEO of a sporting competition that was still recovering from The Super League War. It would have been so easy to bow to pressure from fans, players and club, but he knew that unless clubs were running on a business model that they could sustain over the long term, raising the salary cap would have eventually lead to more losses than games as clubs went bust and players looked elsewhere as a result.
David Gallop was very proud of the fact that NRL fans could turn up to a game on any given weekend against any opponent and know they had a good chance of winning the game. Parity across clubs was his baby, and maintaining the integrity of the salary cap, and policing the cap to a forensic level will probably be what he will be remembered for over the long term.
During his time in charge of the NRL, three clubs broke the salary cap.
The Canterbury Bulldogs were found to be breaching the cap in Gallops first year in charge, and he didn’t hesitate to remove all of the competition points they had gained that season, effectively killing their season in the process.
The New Zealand Warriors broke the salary cap a few years later and started the season on negative points as a result.
The biggest stand though was against the Melbourne Storm, who once again had the season effectively ended with a points penalty and the club, incredibly, had two of its NRL Premierships removed.
Last but not least, Gallop never backed away from making tough decisions in regards to player behaviour. He pushed through numerous anti violence and anti drug programs as well as implementing various other education programs for players.
Under David Gallops watch, the NRL basically built itself up from being a rabble of an organisation to being one that was a slick, corporate giant of the sporting world. He managed to do this while around his group of administrators, he was dealing with old fashioned football types who tried to push agenda’s and who attacked him constantly, for ten years, in the media.
Reading everything above, can you imagine how much the game in Great Britain and Ireland would get out of having a modern day administrator like David Gallop running the show?
Imagine a Super League competition that finally got its finances in order. One with a working salary cap that saw every team across the competition able to honestly say they have a real shot at winning the Super League Grand Final.
Ridiculous gray areas in the salary cap and import quota rules would be changed so that they were in black and white. The type of thing a former corporate lawyer is born to do.
Gallop has been involved in signing some of the biggest sponsorship and broadcasting deals in the games history. His experience in this area would surely see Super League getting more than a few pretty stickers on trucks in exchange for its naming rights!
Another thing to keep in mind is that, David Gallop has so many links in Australian Rugby League circles, he would be in the perfect position to push for closer ties to the game in Australia. Would there be anyone else in the world with better knowledge of how the RFL could try to capitalize on the NRL’s upcoming billion dollar broadcasting deal?
David Gallop reluctantly took over the role as the NRL’s CEO in 2002. British fans probably can’t begin to fathom how intense the pressure is on the leader of the game in Australia. It is the likes of which probably only State Premiers or the Prime Minister could relate to, and he put up with that spotlight for ten years!
Stepping into the role as Chairman of the RFL would be easy for him in that sense. He wouldn’t have anywhere near the same harsh spotlight on him, and it would allow him to put in place reforms Super League badly needs and do a job that I simply don’t think anyone in the British game is capable of doing.
In Australia, Gallop had raw resources he could draw on that he simply wouldn’t have over in the UK, but what the game does have there, he would make the most of it. He would do this without any favoritism, and more importantly, without any fear.
The Rugby Football League desperately needs a modern day administrator to take charge and make changes the game simply must make. No one is better qualified for this role than David Gallop.
What ever the RFL can offer him, it would be well worth it. After all, ten years ago if you said this corporate lawyer would leave the NRL on the verge of signing a billion dollar broadcasting deal, it would have seemed as far fetched as starting a Super League season with 14 true contenders for the Super League title.