Jason Akermanis. Photo: James Geer
The AFL tried to stop triple premiership player Jason Akermanis from bringing his football roadshow to Tuggeranong, the controversial footballer said yesterday.
Akermanis will play up to four games for the struggling NEAFL club, with his first against the GWS Giants reserves at Greenway Oval on June 23.
After the match he’ll speak during a function at Tuggeranong’s Southern Cross Club before returning to Melbourne to race superkarts the following day.
Tuggeranong is set to lose $44,000 in annual funding from the AFL Canberra development fund, which ends next year, and is hoping Akermanis’s presence will help the club cover most of that loss.
Since retiring, the former Western Bulldogs and Brisbane Lions midfielder has been cashing in on the lucrative speaking tour, as well as playing one-off games for country football clubs around Australia. He said it was a win-win situation, with struggling clubs able to make much-needed revenue.
But Akermanis said the AFL, which controls the NEAFL, wasn’t impressed he was pulling on the brown and gold.
The Canberra Times believes the AFL was concerned Akermanis playing in the NEAFL belittled the league, which it hopes to become as good as second-tier competitions like the VFL and the SANFL.
‘‘I was always happy to come and the club wanted me to come and the AFL, who run that league, didn’t want that to happen because I think it’s against one of the AFL’s teams but that’s their problem,’’ Akermanis said.
‘‘We did everything by the rules and there’s nothing stopping us playing ... This is [Tuggeranong’s] way of finding other ways to create revenue and the AFL, for the life of me, want to take the money yet they want to stop them from making money, which made no sense.’’
NEAFL eastern conference general manager Jack Masters said it was within the rules and the governing body had no problem with what the Hawks were doing.
Akermanis drew parallels between his old club and himself – having to travel to make money.
The Bulldogs used to sell one home game to Canberra, and now play matches in Darwin.
‘‘The Bulldogs had to travel and make money and that’s what they do, a bit like what I do for clubs. They get $400,000 to play in Canberra and Darwin, financially that was a decision that they had to make ... you gotta do what you gotta do,’’ Akermanis said.