Chairman of the Australian Rugby League Commission, John Grant, has denied that it was inevitable that David Gallop would leave his post once the new commission was formed in February.
Speaking at a media conference at League Central in Moore Park, Grant said that no one envisaged Gallop and the commission would part ways less than four months into a four-year deal.
He said that the business cycle of the game demanded a fresh approach and the decision was mutual.
Grant confirmed that the search for Gallop's replacement would include candidates from outside the game.
Gallop agreed to stand down from the position immediately after reaching agreement with the game's new bosses.
The outgoing CEO told a media conference that he loved the game and wished it well and that is was a privilege to have been in charge of the "greatest game of all."
AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou raised his outgoing counterpart David Gallop as an outstanding administrator.
Although the codes have been engaged in a fierce battle for supporters and even players under their watch, Demetriou said he had a good relationship with Gallop.
‘‘I’ve known David for many years and had a good personal relationship with him,’’ Demetriou said in a statement after Gallop announced his shock resignation on Tuesday.
‘‘On a professional level, I think he’s an outstanding administrator and I’ve admired the work he’s done with the NRL, and wish him the very best for his next role in his working life.’’
Meanwhile club bosses are shocked by today's announcement.
David understands the need for a fresh approach. Taking this into account and with the interests of the game at heart, the board and David have reached an agreement that the game needs a different style of leadership
Sydney Roosters chief executive Steve Noyce was taken aback at the news.
‘‘I was shocked to be honest,’’ Noyce told AAP.
‘‘I was genuinely shocked and I think most people in the game are.
‘‘I was one of David Gallop’s biggest fans. It is a really really tough gig and I think even his biggest detractors will admit he gave it 100 per cent.
‘‘When you look at everything he had to deal with, he did his job in a decent, honest and transparent manner. He is a wonderful administrator and leaves our great game in a very healthy state.’’
Sharks chairman Damian Irvine said Gallop had left rugby league better than when he began in 2002.
‘‘When David took over we had a great game that was under duress, now we have a great game that is no longer under that duress,’’ Irvine said.
‘‘It is surprising news. I think it is a good thing that it has not been played out in the media and dealt with in a very professional manner.’’
Raiders chief executive Don Furner travelled to Wagga Wagga with Gallop last week on a development trip and said Gallop gave no indication that he was considering stepping aside.
‘‘I am taken aback by it all,’’ Furner said.
‘‘I spent some time with him last week and definitely didn’t see this coming.
‘‘David did such a tough job so well. I don’t think until you are close to it anyone can understand just how tough a job it is. I thought he would have kept working on the TV deal so it does come as a shock.’’
‘‘He led the game through some tough times when you think about the salary cap scandals.
‘‘He did a great job in cleaning up the game’s image. And I don’t think anyone else in any other sport, in AFL or Super 15, would have taken the strong stance that he did on the salary cap scandal.’’
‘‘He has been a great administrator for our game and I wish him all the best.’’
ARL Commission chairman, Grant, announced Gallop's departure by press release and said that the commission was put in place to bring a fresh approach to the way the game can be envisioned, structured and governed.
"David understands the need for a fresh approach. Taking this into account and with the interests of the game at heart, the board and David have reached an agreement that the game needs a different style of leadership detached from the past for the next stage of its development," Grant said.
He paid tribute to Gallop's leading role in navigating rugby league through a decade of growth and change that culminated in the establishment of the Independent Commission this year.
"This agreement should in no way detract from the job David has done over the last decade. He has proven his skills as an effective administrator despite having one of the toughest jobs in sports management and he can be justifiably proud of his achievements and the legacy he leaves," Grant said.
"His leadership and dedication through often challenging times has been a contributor to the commercial success of the NRL competition and the popularity rugby league enjoys today.
"On behalf of the ARL Commission and the rugby league community I thank him for the countless hours he has devoted to promoting and improving rugby league in Australia," Grant said.
Gallop said: "It's been a privilege for me to lead the game over the last 10 years and see the game's resurgence. I love the game and wish it well. Given there's never a good time to give effect to a decision such as this, the commission and I have both determined it's best for me to depart immediately. I would like to thank the clubs, the players, my staff and the fans of the game. It has been an exhilarating and challenging period, but no one can do this job forever."
Grant said: "David leaves with the broadcast negotiations under control following the appointment of Greenhill Caliburn as lead negotiator and the new whole-of-game strategic plan well advanced.
"The search for a new CEO will commence immediately and, in the interim, NRL general manager of strategy, Mr Shane Mattiske, who is leading the executive's role in the broadcast negotiations and development of the whole-of-game strategic plan, has agreed to lead the business.
"We have a very capable senior leadership team that, with the support of the board, will ensure there is continuity until a new CEO is appointed," he said.