Jason Akermanis believes the AFL has a vendetta against him, and should be doing more to help ex-AFL players promote the game. Photo: James Geer
Jason Akermanis has accused the AFL of having a vendetta against him in the lead-up to the controversial footballer playing for Tuggeranong in the NEAFL on Saturday.
He said they should be encouraging ''ex-AFL superstars'' like himself to raise the profile of the game, as well as much-needed revenue for struggling clubs.
The three-time Brisbane Lions premiership player said the NEAFL, which is run by the AFL, has made it difficult for him to play for the struggling Hawks and hasn't promoted the game at all.
Akermanis said he'd called AFL boss Andrew Demetriou to clear the air but had no response.
''I think the AFL have an agenda I don't know anything about, for whatever reason. I don't understand, I ring them, they don't ring back, they can't tell me why,'' he told The Canberra Times yesterday.
''It's getting a little bit petty from certainly their end and to be honest I'm starting to get a bit sick and tired of telling people why the AFL have got a problem with me because I don't really know.
''All their actions have been so negative and disappointing.
''It's gotten to a point where the AFL need to be held accountable because right now they are doing nothing but negative actions towards their own competitions and their own players, and particularly ex-players like myself.
''It's an AFL-run competition. It's the only competition that I've been in in two years that I've had any problem with.
''Do you think that's an accident?''
There was no mention on neafl.com.au yesterday of Akermanis playing for the Hawks against Greater Western Sydney in the eastern conference clash at Greenway Oval.
Akermanis said it was a kick in the guts to a club that has had its funding cut.
As the only Canberra club in the NEAFL not backed by pokies, Tuggeranong views Akermanis as an easy way to raise much-needed revenue.
Next year the Hawks will lose $44,000 in annual funding from the AFL Canberra development fund, which comes from the pokie-backed clubs.
They have also had the catering for the NEAFL grand final taken away from them, worth about $25,000 per year, because Gema Catering hold the rights for Manuka Oval.
Former Carlton spearhead Brendan Fevola helped Tasmania club New Norfolk raise about $40,000 in revenue from one game last weekend - the club's usual home-game revenue from a whole season.
Tuggeranong wanted Akermanis to play another two games, but transfer regulations stood in the way.
''I'm probably going to set the record for the most amount of clubs played for of any player in the history of the world,'' Akermanis said.
''It's always a good day, [Tuggeranong's] obviously really struggling at the bottom but we're there to help.
''They've had all kinds of stuff the AFL's taken off them. I think they've got $40,000 next year they're not going to give them.''
The NEAFL didn't return The Canberra Times' calls.