Former NRL chief David Gallop has officially kicked off his tenure as head of football in Australia with a clear goal – he will capitalise on the current wave of growth and success in Australian football and stick it to the other “very concerned” football codes.
Gallop has been pierced with pestilence about his non-football background, but why should he be?
He almost single-handedly saved the NRL from self-destruction through various criminal allegations in betting scandals, sexual assault allegations and salary cap rorts.
Somehow, he reformed the dire future of the Super League into a $1 billion television deal for Australia’s most-watched sport.
To do exactly that, he had to know his competitor codes inside-out. He knows that Australia’s football footprint crunches that of rugby league and Aussie rules.
That football boasts the highest participation rates in the country. And he sure as hell knows now that the game’s profile has been booted out of the ball park with some big marquee signings.
“The giant continues to be not only awake, but on the move. The game’s statistics around participation, crowds and television ratings are hugely impressive,” said the 47-year-old of A-League’s blazing track record in the 2012/13 season.
“You can announce strategic plans and targets but unless you execute on those strategies, you will fail. The game is witnessing the execution of strategy through the marquee rule every weekend – and who could doubt its pulling power?”
Unprecedented gains have soared on the back of high-profile signings such as Alessandro ‘Il Pinturrichio” Del Piero, English international Emile Heskey and Japanese star Shinji Ono.
None of these three major recruitments have disappointed.
The only demise of the little Italian master’s arrival in Australia is the pressure mounted on Ian Crook, forced to resign because it literally forced him into ill health.
Gallop will see this as a sign of good things to come, on two accounts.
Firstly, it means Australians have become so passionate about football that club bosses are forced into European-style mid-season resignations.
The heat on the players, coaches and managers is the result of steady growth in mainstream participation.
Secondly, Crook’s downfall has led to a large list of high-profile replacements marking their interest – and according to Sydney FC chief executive Tony Pignata, the calibre of international coaches applying for the job are a mark of respect for Del Piero’s ability to lure the eye of more than simply supporters.
The newly instated commander and chief of the FFA will certainly ruffle a few feathers among other codes.
The AFL has lived in fear of his administrative prowess and devotion to a cause, as they witnessed during the great sporting battle of western Sydney.
NRL officials are wary of Gallops knowledge of their game.
You could argue he created the current format of the sport.
A man reborn after a few months out of the office, David Gallop offers a fresh approach to football in Australia and my prediction is that he will guide the world game into the Top Two football codes in the country.