UPDATED: Matthew Johns was stood down indefinitely by the Nine Network today. Johns and his manager John Fordham had a two hour meeting with the head of Channel Nine, David Gyngell. He is will front on A Current Affair tonight. Tracy Grimshaw is flying from her Melbourne home to Nine’s Sydney studios.
Nine CEO David Gyngell has now said: “The fact is, whatever the arguments about the details of the New Zealand incident involving Cronulla players in 2002, the conduct and its aftermath was simply unacceptable, fullstop.
“”I have always had great regard for Matt, but he knows better than anyone that this incident has
placed him in an untenable position. To his credit he has recognised that and acted upon it.”
Melbourne Storm has also responded with CEO Brian Waldron saying, “Following discussions between Melbourne Storm and Matthew Johns management earlier today, it was mutually agreed that Matthew would stand down from his part-time role with the club, indefinitely.”
Reports today claim TV personality and former footballer Matthew Johns is set to be stood down indefinitely by Channel Nine over his involvement in a group sex act.
The ABC’s Four Corners program on Monday night claimed a teenage woman had been left feeling suicidal after participating in group sex with Johns and other Sharks players in a Christchurch hotel seven years ago. Her emotional claims were devastating television.
The woman claimed up to 12 players and staff had entered the room over a two-hour period, with six of them having sex with her. Four New Zealand police travelled to Sydney to investigate the incident, but no charges were laid.
Last week on the NRL Footy Show, Johns commented on the incident as a pre-emptive strike before the ABC show could air, claiming it had caused a lot of embarrassment to his family. There was no apology to the girl involved -he even got a pat on the back from Paul Vautin.
Four Corners claims Johns told them he knew the story would catch up with him one day.
NRL chief executive David Gallop yesterday declared everyone involved in rugby league must accept the need to change attitudes towards women or “get out of the game”.
Asked about Johns, Gallop said: “He has got a massive question mark over his future.
“I’m aware that he will be talking to his employer in the next short period.
Nine would not comment yesterday on the future of Johns but news.com.au claims he has been stood down from all on-air roles indefinitely.
Media continue to blast the NRL and Matty Johns over the incident but Johns’ manager John Fordham said his client would not make a public apology to the girl involved.
But Gallop said the incidents highlighted by Four Corners were “fundamentally indefensible”. He apologised to the women who appeared in the program.
“Violence against women is abhorrent and sexual assault and the degradation of women is just that,” Gallop said.
“This is not a time for clubs and players to complain about the media or the fact that victims have spoken out.”
The loss of Johns to the NRL Footy Show comes at a time when the show is struggling to gain viewers in its key markets. In Sydney last week it was beaten by the ABC’s Q&A, yet it managed to win a Logie as the “Most Popular Sports Show.” At the time Paul Vautin thanked CEO David Gyngell for helping to keep the show on air, a line he declined to elaborate on to media after the show.
At the start of its season this year Vautin opened the show with a serious monologue about standards of decency amongst players, and the need for NRL to improve its code of conduct for the sake of a great game.
It’s time to stand up and be counted.