Nine’s Newman blue killed Footy Show
FOOTY Show cult heroes have declared a decision to clean up controversial shock jock Sam Newman is the reason the iconcic Aussie TV show faced its final curtain on Thursday night.
Following years of disastrous ratings slides, Nine's final roll of the dice to resurrect the show with a new-look panel, led by Anthony "Lehmo" Lehmann and Neroli Meadows, was ultimately taken off life support without notice last night, just minutes after the live broadcast finished.
While Nine has been blasted for the cold decision to terminate the show without warning, commentators have saved their most staggering condemnation for the greatest failure in the show's history.
While Newman alienated part of the audience and was portrayed as the show's greatest weakness, it has never been more apparent the 73-year-old was the show's greatest attraction.
Former Footy Show host Garry Lyon, popular panellist Brendan Fevola and TV commentators have all gone public this morning to declare there was never going to be a The Footy Show without the loudmouth Geelong larrikin.
Another former host, Eddie McGuire, even admitted on Friday morning that last year's grand final episode of the iconic program should have been its farewell, despite his media company JAM TV signing on again to produce The Footy Show for Channel 9 this year.
A week before the grand final episode, Newman shocked AFL fans by essentially quitting live on air despite widespread rumblings Nine had not offered him a contract for 2019.
This decision proved a critical blunder the show would never come back from.
"It just wasn't The Footy Show," Fevola told Fox 101.9's Fifi, Fev and Byron on Friday morning.
"It was all about ins and outs and the teams and you had Sam saying whatever he wanted and I think PC (political correctness) killed that now.
"Sad to see it go, and I think Neroli said at the end of the show, 'We'll see you next week', and that's what hurts the most because we didn't get told. It would have been nice if they (Nine executives) told us beforehand, because they did know.
"Tell us beforehand so we can give our viewers - not many of them - that were watching over the last 26 years (the chance) to say goodbye, and I don't think we had a chance to do that.
"I'm glad Sam got a chance last year to do that, which was pretty funny how he said that."
Lyon also declared Newman's wildcard factor made him "the biggest star of the show" - a fact buried under the unceasing stream of scandals he ignited.
Lyon was asked by veteran AFL journalist Mike Sheehan on SEN Breakfast on Friday if Nine's decision to "emasculate" Newman triggered the show's downwards spiral.
Lyon responded: "Yes. They were within their rights on occasions to rein him in to a degree because you had to be conscious that there's a different world we live in, but I think there was an over-correction down the track.
"The street talk stuff that was really funny early in the piece, and then occasionally he stepped over (the line), and the interpretation gets different, and they ended up spending way more time dealing with those issues then doing what they should have been doing, which is putting together a show that was entertaining for 90 minutes."
Lyon said Newman had regularly made him "uncomfortable" with some stunts and admitted to "rebuking" the veteran panellist behind the scenes when he'd stepped out of line.
However, he admitted he never doubted Newman was the show's most important ingredient.
McGuire also highlighted Newman's departure as a death sentence for his former show.
McGuire led the calls on Friday morning for Newman to be inducted into the Logies Hall of Fame for Australian TV.
"Sam Newman should be in the TV Hall of Fame. Whether or not they do is up to them, but there is no doubt that Sam Newman has been one of the most influential people in the history of media in this town," McGuire told Triple M.
"Now that the show is finished, we can reflect on that.
"There were many incarnations of the show, the original show with different hosts along the journey, but Sam was the mainstay."
Media commentator Kevin Perry wrote on Friday that Nine was kidding itself to believe there were legs in The Footy Show following Newman's departure - the same mistake the network made when the NRL Footy Show sacked veteran host Paul Vautin only for the ratings to spiral into free fall. It was killed off the same year.
"The Footy Show had been on a downward spiral for a long time," Perry wrote for TV Blackbox.
"It possibly should have been axed in 2016 when Garry Lyon departed. It probably should have been axed in 2017 when James Brayshaw departed. It definitely should have been axed in 2018 when Sam Newman quit live on-air.
"Love him or hate him, Newman was the heart and soul of the AFL Footy Show. The entire format was built around him. If he was engaged, the show was electric. If he was disinterested (a regular occurrence in later years) the entire format fell apart.
"Newman had run his race as a prime time TV host, but to continue the show without him was also foolhardy."
Newman was embroiled in another scandal just hours before the final Footy Show went to air on Thursday night when a tweet was published on his Twitter account.
The post, which showed a photo of a women's race at the IAAF Diamond League meet in Doha, has been branded "racist" by many people on social media.
Newman's photo showed all runners in the race were of darker skin.
He commented: "Women's 200m in Doha. Is there anyone who is white that can run? Please don't quit Sally Pearson."
The comment was widely criticised by many on social media.
Others, including veteran sports reporter Richard Hinds, suggested Newman's tweet perfectly captured why the show had lost the interest of Australian viewers.