NRL chief Gallop satisfied with Sharks - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NRL chief Gallop satisfied with Sharks

By Steve Jancetic 25/05/2009 09:23:13 PM Comments (0)

NRL chief executive David Gallop is satisfied the culture at the Cronulla football club has "come a long way" from the 2002 Christchurch group sex scandal, but says it's now up to the Sharks members to show whether they feel the same way.

Gallop emerged from a four-hour long crisis talk with the entire Sharks board on Monday night confident the club could dig itself out of the $9 million hole it finds itself in, and satisfied with the club's denial of allegations that sex toys and sex workers were introduced to the playing group via the football club.

"We haven't been able to find any evidence to support those allegations, but certainly if there is further evidence, then we'd ask people to bring it forward to us," Gallop said.

Mystery, though, still surrounds the departure of a female employee last year after she was hit by an accidental punch by Sharks chief executive Tony Zappia four months before he departure.

Zappia denied any wrongdoing, the NRL failing in it's attempt to speak with the woman who maintained her silence in accordance with her termination agreement in which was reportedly paid $20,000, despite the Sharks allowing her to speak.

"We've certainly sought to speak with the former employee and we haven't been able to do that because of the agreement struck between the club and her and her unwillingness to speak to us," Gallop said.

Gallop praised the board for their willingness to conduct fresh elections on July 31, where chairman Barry Pierce's position is expected to come under threat.

Just as he did in announcing the new election on Saturday, Pierce declined to take questions in relation to the scandals that have engulfed the club, instead reading from a prepared statement.

Gallop said it was now up to the Sharks members to decide the future of their club.

"We've come away hoping that fans come and vote in this election," Gallop said.

"The NRL doesn't run football clubs, football clubs are run by boards of directors and members have an opportunity to vote for that board of directors.

"We would encourage everyone who's entitled to vote at Cronulla to come forward at this election and vote for who you want to run this club."

Asked if he had confidence in the current board, Gallop said: "I've got confidence they they know they've got challenges ahead of them and to their credit they have said they will throw themselves open to re-election."

Of the club's dire financial plight which has led to questions over their very survival, Gallop said he was confident in the plans in place for the short and long-term future which centre heavily on the club's ability to develop the ground around Toyota Stadium, with plans for development currently before council.

"That asset, if it can be developed - and they are certainly confident that it can be - then that will set them up for the future," Gallop said.

"At this stage the club is financially viable and they are uniquely placed in many respects because of the opportunity that the land has given them."

In his statement, Pierce said plans were already in place to revitalise the club and the Sharks brand.

"The Board presented a plan that proposes change in relation to programs aimed at financial sustainability both short and long term, to business operations and player education that will ultimately renew the club."

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