‘Staggering’: What Erin needs to know
AUSSIE netball legend Liz Ellis has come out swinging at critics of Footy Show host and Nine stablemate Erin Molan.
Ellis made an impassioned defence of her Channel 9 colleague on Wednesday night, the day after Nine announced its decision to axe the iconic NRL panel program after 25 years.
Molan's prominence as host during its death spiral final season in 2018 saw the 35-year-old come under fire from critics and viewers.
Many of the show's long-running fans still blame Molan for the axing of former host Paul Vautin, something Vautin himself has never voiced.
However, critics of the show saved their greatest criticism for the Channel 9 sports presenter - with some going as far as to declare Molan "killed" the Footy Show.
Ellis took aim at those critics in a column for Nine.com.au, where she concluded the extraordinary vitriol directed at Molan can only be the result of her being a woman.
"Anyone taking over from Fatty Vautin was always going to be on a hiding to nothing; he was synonymous with the show and is well loved because of it," Ellis wrote.
"So whoever the new host was, male or female, they would have come under fire when the show got axed.
"But the commentary about Erin has been incredibly personal, including attacking her for going on maternity leave, so it leaves you no choice but to think this is about her being a woman and daring to take on The Footy Show.
"I thought things had changed, but maybe they haven't."
The former captain of the Australian netball team also declared the commentary around Molan "staggering and disappointing".
She saved her greatest disappointment for the criticism surrounding Molan's decision to give birth to her first child and take maternity leave in the show's final season.
"Some of the criticism directed at Erin this week has been very, very personal, and I really have an issue with that," Ellis wrote.
"In response, I want Erin to know there are plenty of people who support her and who admire her work ethic; I'm certainly one of them."
She wasn't alone in her decision to publicly show support for Molan as the network begins picking up the pieces of its rugby league coverage.
While Nine has already announced Molan will remain host of The Sunday Footy Show and has the network's full support - a report on Wednesday showed Molan had been set-up to fail from the start.
The production decision to take the program's focus away from light-hearted giggles and towards serious football discussion saw Molan promoted to the position as host.
The decision to dramatically change the core focus of the show away from entertainment and towards newsworthy discussion angered many of the show's core supporters.
"There were some very high expectations for Erin that many people here didn't think she could ever meet," a Nine insider told news.com.au on Wednesday.
"Turns out, they were right."