Channel Nine is set to axe the Logie-award winning The Footy Show after 24 years on-air with founding host Paul Vautin told he will not be part of a revamped program on Thursday nights.
Fairfax Media can reveal Footy Show executive producer Glenn Pallister this week told Vautin, who is holidaying in the US, that the long-running program would make way for a new one-hour program headed by co-host Erin Molan and with a football focus.
Vautin is contracted to Nine for next year and is likely to spend more time in the commentary box calling matches. The future of panelists Beau Ryan, who has another two years to run on his deal, and Darryl Brohman, who is off contract, remains unclear.
It is also understood Nine will try to breathe life into a Monday night rugby league show similar to Footy Classified, which is aired in AFL states.
Nine's Sunday Footy Show hosted by James Bracey will continue.
Only last week, Nine's publicity department declared The Footy Show, which has won 11 Logies, would return in 2018 on Thursday nights.
"The NRL Footy Show also returns for its 25th season in 2018 with all the latest breaking stories and loads of fun from the world of rugby league," the media release said. "Each week, Paul 'Fatty' Vautin, Erin Molan, Beau Ryan and Darryl "Big Marn" Brohman will be joined by some of the biggest names in the game."
The Footy Show was a ground-breaker when it first aired in the 1990s and was the scene of some of rugby league's biggest stories, including the on-air stoush between Ray Hadley and John Ribot during Super League war and Andrew Johns' confession to Phil Gould that he had battled depression and drug use during his playing career.
But a consistent drop in ratings in recent years has put pressure on the show. Next season, Nine will broadcast 23 live matches on Thursday nights.
The news follows Monday night's shock announcement that Lisa Wilkinson was walking away from The Today Show to join Network Ten's The Project because of a pay dispute.
A Nine spokesperson said: "The program is going through some changes in style and format that is yet to be determined. Under the new broadcast deal with the NRL there will be 23 Thursday night matches next season and the show will be off the back of that. Nothing is resolved in terms of how it will look and what talent will be used."