Gallop stays silent on Smith’s NRL exit

He’s been watching, but former NRL chief executive David Gallop isn’t interested in talking about his successor’s departure from the role.

Rugby league boss Dave Smith announced his resignation on Tuesday, bringing an end to his polarising three years at the helm since taking over after Gallop walked away in 2012.

“I obviously keep an eye on what’s happening, but I’ve got absolutely nothing to say about Dave or John Grant or the ARL Commission (ARLC) today,” the Football Federation Australia chief said in Sydney.

“Today for us is about football.”

Gallop’s decade-long reign as the sport’s top administrator far exceeded Smith’s three years in charge, although there are uncomfortable similarities.

Just as there have been rumours of a fallout between Smith and ARLC chairman John Grant, Gallop’s tensions with Grant were well publicised.

Gallop found himself isolated and ultimately squeezed out of the sport’s decision-making process in June 2012, when the long-time figurehead was suddenly required to report to the newly elected Grant and seven-person commission installed earlier that year to run the game.

His exit was said to be by mutual agreement, although Grant accused the NRL of being too “reactive” and pushed the need for a fresh approach.

That included a crucial new TV deal, an area that had attracted Smith recent criticism.

Smith’s handling of broadcast negotiations came under fire when he signed a new free-to-air TV deal with the Nine Network before an agreement was reached over pay-TV rights.

The Welsh-born former banker was also often at odds with clubs over the direction of the game and how revenue was divided up.

During Gallop’s controversial time in charge, he dealt with betting scams, sex, drug and assault cases involving players, and most famously the Melbourne salary cap scandal.

He laughed when asked whether he would like the job back, then declined to answer further questions.

“As I say, I’ve got nothing further to say about that. I don’t want to talk about that.”

Grant takes over as interim CEO while a search is conducted for a successor.

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