NRL chief executive Dave Smith quits

Dave Smith has quit as NRL chief executive, ending a tumultuous three-year reign.

Smith said on Tuesday he would leave the job on November 30.

ARLC Commission chairman John Grant takes over as interim CEO.

Smith has been a polarising figure in rugby league since taking over from longtime CEO David Gallop ahead of the 2013 season.

As a former banker he has been credited with improving rugby league’s finances.

However, he was constantly at odds with the clubs over the direction the game was taking and how the NRL’s revenue was divided up.

Smith’s exit was also being linked to a breakdown in negotiations over the NRL’s lucrative broadcast rights.

In August, Smith came under fire for his handling of broadcast negotiations when he signed a new free-to-air TV deal with Channel Nine before an agreement was reached over the pay-TV rights.

He trumpeted a $925 million five-year free-to-air-broadcast deal with Channel Nine for seasons 2018-2022 that increased the game’s presence on the network to five games a week.

However, that deal was soon shadowed by the AFL’s reported $1.3-billion deal with its free-to-air and Pay TV broadcast partners as News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch showed his displeasure about Fox Sports being sidelined by the NRL’s deal with Nine.

Smith had declared one of his major aims in office was to conclude dealings on the new TV broadcast arrangement, something he will no longer have the opportunity to do, with the pay TV and digital rights for seasons 2018-2022 still to be negotiated to a conclusion.

Wales-born Smith was also criticised for his lack of accessibility to the media.

He will perhaps best be remembered by league fans for bringing in the `one punch and you are off’ edict following an incident between Paul Gallen and Nate Myles during State of Origin in 2013.

It was a ruling aimed at making the game more family friendly and eliminated the biff from rugby league overnight.

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