NRL shaking after Gallop coup, but finally there’s a leader
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David Gallop has resigned as NRL boss (Image: AAP)
I walk past rugby league central every morning on my way to breakfast at the SFS Café, and you can still feel the foundations of the brand new building shaking.
National Rugby League Chairman John Grant has left such an imprint at HQ by sacking CEO David Gallop after ten years of service, that every time an executive walks out for some fresh air, they still carry a look of bewilderment, wondering if they will be the next to go.
What they do know is that their new caretaker boss does not like his people to be “reactive”.
Make no mistake, a big skyrocket has hit RLC, and everybody including the tea lady is googling the term ‘proactive’.
When John Grant hung up his football boots in 1973, he did not grow his company Data#3 from 14 people in 1984 to become a billion-dollar operation by being a follower.
“In order to build businesses you have got to be creative; you have got to be different; you have got to be quick; you have got to be, in a word, innovative,” said Grant in 2009.
The business style adopted by David Gallop was contrary to Grant’s philosophy, “If you look at the way the game in the NRL has run over the last 10 years, you’d have to say that it was a reactive business,” he said last week after he told Gallop not to come in Monday, or ever again.
Many observers consider Grant’s cold blooded chop harsh, largely based on the fact that the NRL has developed and gone ahead in leaps and bounds over the last decade. That is true, and is testimony to how good the game is, and to its TV popularity, but there can be no denying that AFL’s Andrew Demetriou out-pointed David Gallop by a staggering margin of $73 million a year in their respective TV deals.
In plain language, over $500 million was lost to rugby league, and the buck stopped with David Gallop. If you don’t think that is a sackable offence then you probably think President Obama has managed the U.S. economy well.
There is a popular rumour that if the chairman cannot find a suitable replacement for Gallop, then he will assume the role himself. There is no doubt that his resumé and list of business achievements are formidable, and even AFL’s professed king Andrew Demetriou would be impressed, but he would have nothing to gain by driving his $370,000 Maserati to Moore Park every day, just plenty to lose.
Grant’s personal stake in Data#3 is said to be $160m, so why would he jeopardise that? Certainly not for the expected $2 million CEO’s salary, as Data#3 shares would plummet if he left the general’s post.
The mainstream media will have their own agenda, trying to guess or influence the outcome, but some of their reports on possible Gallop replacements, including past and current executives from NRL clubs, Racing NSW, and cable TV, would not sit well alongside the man named 2009 Microsoft Worldwide Partner of the Year.
John Grant has already indicated who he wants.
Likely applicants only need to listen to some old Grant speeches where he emphasises the importance of innovation because of his belief that, “today’s business model is not tomorrow’s business model, and tomorrow’s business model is not the business model the day after.”
Based on that John Grant business philosophy, maybe the ARLC can be proactive and invest in their very own cable TV network like FetchTV, and include live streaming so more rugby league fans can actually watch every game.
Grant grew Data#3 to be one of Australia’s great companies because he was astute enough to see a gap in the way the larger global organisations were delivering product to customers. He has exactly the same challenge with delivering the NRL into people’s homes, as only 30% of people have cable TV and they are forced to pay a premium and get other channels that they never watch. Foxtel and Austar have a monopoly and footy fans are getting ripped off.
Fans could pay only $20 a month and watch every game on an alternative cable TV network to Foxtel/Austar where they must fork out $65 to $150 a month. Live pay-per-view via streaming on the NRL website would be great for fans, but not all fans have a computer or an iPhone.
John Grant would say, “the fans remain relevant.”
So owning the game and personally maximising delivery of it live and direct would seem the ultimate in innovation and proactivity.
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