A hotly-contested award with local soccer leaders Frank Lowy and (now-departed Football Federation Australia CEO) John O’Neill receiving reader support, as did AFL supremo Andrew Demetriou for the minor achievement of landing a jaw-dropping $780 million five-year TV deal for his sport, along with increased radio and new media money. And let’s not forget former tennis spruiker Paul McNamee, who has single-handedly revived the Australian Open as a golfing contest of note. Or Victorian Commonwealth Games Minister Justin Madden who, despite being about nine feet tall, neatly ducked every question about Comm Games budget blow-outs – in an election year. But for ours, former AFL commercial operations manager Ben Buckley deserves this gong. He was in the thick of those enormous media deals and then jumped, to take over from O’Neill and potentially direct soccer’s drive to glory in this country. It was reported that he’d picked up a $750,000 pay rise to move into the FFA CEO chair and nobody seems to have a bad word to say about him as a bloke or the way he does business. Well played.
Crikey readers say:
“John O’Neill – although much of the groundwork for FFA success was laid in 2005, his professionalism and intelligent guidance were excellent.” Jeff Kernahan
The judges for the Sport section of the Crikey Honour Roll 2006 were Michael Roberts, Michael Tormey, Nick Place, Andrew Maitland and Jeff Wall.