'Off the Ball' team leaves Newstalk pitch after row with management
It’s a case of a team taking their ball and departing. The entire production team behind Off The Ball, Newstalk’s ground-breaking evening sports programme, has left with immediate effect.
The producers and presenters of the programme, which has about 50,000 listeners and is the most popular national radio show on weekdays between 7pm and 10pm, have quit the station in a row over the show’s starting time.
The team wanted to change the starting time from 7pm to 6pm and had been negotiating with Newstalk over it. However, the station was reluctant to surrender an hour of its flagship current affairs programme, The Right Hook, presented by George Hook, to a sports programme.
It felt drive-time audiences and sponsors had considerably more interest in news and current affairs than in sport.
Newstalk had put a number of alternatives on the table in recent weeks, including an additional Saturday morning show.
The station issued a statement yesterday confirming that Eoin McDevitt, Simon Hick, Ken Early, Ciarán Murphy and Mark Horgan had all resigned from its sports department.
Former Off the Ball presenter and current Newstalk sports editor Ger Gilroy has taken over the main presenter’s role.
Within minutes of the news being announced, bookmakers were offering odds on where the team would go next, with RTÉ Radio favourite at 6/4.