Thursday, 14 June 2012

Tumultuous Tuesday - David Gallop (2012)

Today saw the shock resignation of NRL Chief David Gallop. Gallop began as CEO in seemingly surprising circumstances on February 4, 2002. Up until his appointment, he was never considered as a real chance of being the top man, and even 3 days prior to his appointment, he ruled himself out of the running.

Gallop's rise to CEO was one which divided the Rugby League landscape in Australia, because in 1995 he was hand picked by John Ribot to be the legal affairs manager of the yet to be formed, News Ltd backed Superleague, a position he held until Superleague's demise at the end of their only season in 1997.

The reunification of the competition in 1998 saw Gallop instated as director of Legal and Business affairs for the NRL, which he held until accepting the role of CEO in early 2002, some four months after previous boss David Moffett had resigned.

Gallop spoke today about the great advancements in the game in his time, but failed to acknowledge the great contribution he made in splitting the game apart, which potentially sent the game back many many years. In this writers opinion, he has done just enough work to clean his slate.

His tumultuous leadership of the game wasn't without controversy. The Salary Cap scandals surrounding the Bulldogs in his first year running the game in 2002 and the Melbourne Storm saga in 2010 which saw them have two premierships stripped from them. A year later he likened the Storm fans to terrorists in one of his lowest and dumbest moments.

There was also the Brett Stewart saga in 2009 where he was alleged to have drunkenly sexually assaulted a 17 year old girl, which lead Gallop to suspend Stewart for a month under the flimsy ruling of essentially, being drunk. Stewart was later found to be not guilty of the assault, but it created a great tension between Stewart, his club Manly and Gallop.

In 2004, the Bulldogs were embroiled in an ongoing drama surrounding an alleged gang rape by several first graders at Coffs Harbour during the pre-season.

There were other sexual assault allegations during his reign, of which he took little to no action against.

In 2010, Bulldogs player Ryan Tandy was found guilty of match fixing.
In 2009, Newcastle player Danny Wicks was arrested and charged with drug possession and trafficking and in 2011 was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment. Gallop took no action in this case either.
Robert Lui, the Wests Tigers halfback at the time, was arrested and charged on two seperate occasions in the space of 12 months for assaulting his partner. He was acquitted the first time but found guilty the second time. Again, the NRL took no action, save for a one-season suspension. Lui will be welcome to play in 2013.

And there have been other assault allegations committed by players against girlfriends and members of the public, nearly all of which found the players not guilty. Most notable of these were the cases surrounding Benji Marshall, Greg Bird and Greg Inglis.

There was also the odd case of Joel Monaghan and his dog.

And the several cases against the likes of Willie Mason, Todd Carney, Brett Seymour et al.

Truth be told, under Gallop's reign, the game's players have become more highly paid than ever before, but the off field scandals have been increasingly more frequent in occurrence.

More and more clubs have been exceeding the salary cap than ever before and the game has become more and more distanced from grassroots and country rugby league.

Merchandise, memberships and just average game day costs have also risen sharply.

The media has been allowed to portray Rugby League in a very negative light, most notably the media organisation he once worked for.

Channel 9 had been allowed to televise the game however it seemed fit with no punishment or warnings from Gallop.

Sure it's easy to sit here and talk about all the negatives that happened under Gallop's reign, but it's even harder to conjure up a decent list of great things he did to move the game forward.

The game has cleaned up its image, but it wasn't done on the back of anything Gallop decided. In fact, if Gallop had've taken a more stern stance to the issues mentioned above, the games image would have been cleaned up many years ago and its possible that some of the lives affected by reckless NRL player behaviour could have been avoided.

So David, thank you for your time and your effort. No doubt you did try and make a positive influence on the game, but too often you were hesitant, reluctant to act and on the times you did react, you were too severe or you jumped the gun, further alienating yourself from the players, clubs and fans.

I hope for your sake, that you are remembered as the man who was CEO of the NRL as it moved into its more enterprising era ever, and not as a News Ltd lackey who played a key role in Superleague.

Onwards and Upwards!

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