Former Before The Game stars Sam Lane and Mick Molloy.

Former Before The Game stars Sam Lane and Mick Molloy. Photo: Seven Network

Channel Ten axed popular footy comedy show Before The Game last December, in the depths of the footy off-season.

The ramifications for Ten are now becoming apparent deep in the following pre-season, with comedian Mick Molloy becoming the second former Before The Game presenter after Samantha Lane to join Channel Seven's Saturday night coverage.

“Comedian Mick Molloy has signed with Seven's Saturday Night Footy team in the biggest trade coup since Lance 'Buddy' Franklin landed in Bondi,” Channel Seven announced Wednesday.

Channel Seven's Saturday pre-match team: Luke Darcy, Sam Lane, Mick Molloy and Matthew Richardson.

Channel Seven's Saturday pre-match team: Luke Darcy, Sam Lane, Mick Molloy and Matthew Richardson. Photo: Seven Network

“A self-professed Tigers' tragic, Molloy will join Luke Darcy, Brian Taylor, Matthew Richardson, Cameron Ling and Sam Lane for the hour-long preview show on Saturday Night Footy throughout the 2014 AFL season.

“He will not be required to wear a suit and tie.”

Molloy, unsurprisingly, also took a comical approach. “It's the biggest move for Seven since Celebrity Splash. And I couldn't be happier to be at Seven, the only network that hasn't sacked me yet,” he said.

No wonder Seven is happily wisecracking. Before The Game was a staple of many footy fans in Melbourne, its lighthearted take on footy culture – and its ability to find the witty and playful side of AFL stars – offering an alternative to the blokey perennial, Channel Nine's Footy Show.

Does the gap left by before The Game mean Channel Seven is looking to air a lighter, more comedy-based lead-in on Saturday nights?

"The preview show has always been a mix of light entertainment and footy," a Channel Seven spokesman said. "That won't change. But Mick obviously brings a bit more colour and humour to the panel, as well as a layman's take on football issues, the voice from the outer."

Before The Game appeared in rude health when it was discontinued, its demise surprising many footy fans. Like Nine's Thursday night light entertainment flagship, it did not need footy highlights to thrive.

Owned not by Ten, but by production company Roving Enterprises, there was some hope the show might be picked up by another network. There was also some conjecture that the resignation of lynchpin Dave Hughes from a full-time role on the show, and his role on Ten's nightly The Project, affected the decision to cut Before The Game.

But Channel Ten boss Russel Howcroft told Triple M's Hot Breakfast that the show just didn't do well enough nationally.

“Unfortunately, it's a show that costs money to make.

“It actually is only watched in Melbourne – you'd think maybe Adelaide and Perth would watch it, so it's hard to get the ratings to the point that you need them.

“Commercially, it was hard to argue for it.”

The AFL instituted a Saturday twilight match last year, telecast on Fox Footy, which ran in direct competition with Before The Game, which was pulling in 200,000 viewers.

Upon the show's demise, blogger aussie80s spoke for many with his words on The Footy Almanac site:

“One of the flames I have been drawn to for the last decade has been Before The Game. Many TV shows try to be funny and entertaining but it is not easy to pull it off. Before The Game has been consistently entertaining whereas others such as The Footy Show only think they are. Others such as Live And Kicking, The Bounce etc tried and failed.”

Channel Seven has tried many light entertainment footy shows in the past 20 years, without success.

Asked if the network had considered bringing Before The Game to Channel Seven viewers, a spokesman replied: “No.”