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Nov 13, 2012

Gallop's new toy is world game

Having played Fireman Sam for a decade, David Gallop now gets a crack at Bob The Builder.

Gallop spent much of his time at the National Rugby League putting out spot fires.

He copped the lot, week in and week out, from the blue-collar sins of player misbehaviour to white-collar crimes like match-fixing and salary cap cheating.

He was accused of being too reactive and not sufficiently proactive, but that's because he had to react to so many crises.

His new job in charge of football puts him in entirely different territory.

Instead of carrying out running repairs to an already successful game, he has a chance to build a smaller game, domestically speaking, into something that one day could be the tallest building on the block.

Australia is now entrenched as one of the major powers in Asia.

The flagship Socceroos are on course for their third successive World Cup finals appearance, in Brazil in 2014.

The A-League's eighth season is shaping as its best ever, with crowds up 40 per cent to an average of 15,000, TV ratings up 40 per cent at close to 100,000 per game and genuine star material in marquee players like Alessandro Del Piero and Emile Heskey.

The game's impending broadcast deal, though small in comparison to the AFL and NRL, looks like being twice as big as the last, and importantly will include free-to-air television.

"I feel we have made the connection with the mainstream sporting audience of Australia," said FFA chairman Frank Lowy.

"This looks like being a watershed year."

Gallop's stage is now the world. He goes from a big fish in a small pond to a small fish in the world's biggest pond.

He knows a bit about angling, too.

"I believe in fishing where the fish are," he said, backing Western Sydney Wanderers' entry into one of sport's hottest marketplaces.

After 10 years of answering to both News Ltd and the ARL, Gallop will appreciate having one boss and one board.

His appointment shows football is not ashamed to learn from its opposition.

Following rugby union's John O'Neill and AFL's Ben Buckley into the job, it completes a curious trifecta in which the game has recruited its past three CEOs from its biggest rivals.

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