Matthew Johns has rejected a lucrative offer from Channel Nine to return to a revamped NRL Footy Show, because Nine declined to axe Paul “Fatty” Vautin.
Johns, who left Nine to join Seven after his involvement in an NRL scandal, is believed to have turned down a figure in excess of $500,000.
“We have been offered in writing more money then he ever got before on Nine and he knocked it back,” manager John Singleton told the Daily Telegraph.
Johns said, “They said, ‘we’re going to reinvent the show’ but, for mine, it’s not going to be reinvented. I don’t want to go back to the past. I’ve had my time on that show and enjoyed it but it’s going to be the same show and I’ve been there and done that.”
Johns’ camp also wanted creative control of the show.
“You cannot work unless you have creative control, production control, and we weren’t given that,” Singleton said.
Singleton also described Vautin as “an average footballer, an average TV talent.”
Nine Network managing director Jeff Browne said Vautin had been “a loyal servant for 18 years” and he wasn’t prepared to move him on to get someone else on the show. “If they don’t want Fatty on the show and they don’t want to do it, that’s their decision,” he said.
Not dumping Vautin is an interesting position by Nine.
On the one hand it’s good to see loyalty rewarded, although other loyal employees including Kerri-Anne Kennerley haven’t always fared as well.
On the other hand the NRL Footy Show has been underperforming for the last few years, woefully propped up by the numbers from the AFL Footy Show. It is in dire need of new blood. It’s only survived because the network has the NRL rights and it’s a favourite of David Gyngell.
Updated: Johns told TripleM Grill Team: “The plain simple truth of it is I’m just being upfront. What I said to Nine was I wasn’t going to go back to The Footy Show. They had a belief that the show probably needs to be re-invented. I said it needs to be blown up and start again.”