Hawks hope Akermanis can be their cash cow
Retired AFL Champion Jason Akermanis (right) pictured at a Western Border Football League game in 2011. Photo: Damian White
Human headline Jason Akermanis will deliver a significant boost to the coffers of the Tuggeranong Hawks when the Brownlow medallist arrives for a three-game stint in Canberra.
The struggling Hawks - winless after four rounds - are banking on the 35-year-old's drawing power to lure punters in droves for their North East Australian Football League matches against the GWS Giants on June 23 and the Queanbeyan Tigers on July 14 and August 19.
All matches where Akermanis would be involved are at the Hawks' home ground, Greenway Oval.
Hawks general manager David Graham would not divulge how much his club was paying Akermanis for the three games and a public speaking engagement but was adamant it would result in a financial windfall.
''We've more than covered the cost of Jason and making significant money out of it,'' Graham said.
''I can tell you it's more about Jason putting back into grass-roots football than it is about him making money.
''We're not the richest club in Canberra and Jason's very mindful of that.
''It's more about trying to help us than it is about helping his back pocket.
''He's earning some bigger money in some of the other things he's got going in his life.''
Despite retiring from AFL two years ago, Akermanis has rarely been out of the spotlight.
He will be seen on the small screen in tonight's season premiere of Celebrity Apprentice and recently lost his job with a radio station over disparaging comments made about the late Melbourne Demons president Jim Stynes.
Those remarks also cost Akermanis a gig with Essendon District Football League club Moonee Valley after he played for Glenorchy in the Tasmanian state league last year.
With Akermanis, Glenorchy's crowds increased by about 6000.
While the Hawks are more realistic in their expectations, they are hoping his presence will have flow-on effects for the rest of the club.
''Not all is going to Jason, the majority will go to support the club so we become more self sufficient,'' Graham said.
''The cost of competing in the NEAFL is increasing so we have to come up with these types of initiatives to help the club make money in a hard market.''
The Hawks are the only ACT-based NEAFL club without the backing of a leagues club.
They began negotiations with Akermanis in December for a public speaking gig and a one-off playing appearance against the Giants, and consulted AFL Canberra before finalising the deal in January.
Late last week that had increased to any other games Akermanis would be available for in the second half of the season.
Ainslie was offered the services of former Coleman medallist Brendan Fevola for this season, but baulked at the Carlton spearhead's asking price of $5000 a game for a nine-game stint.
Fevola is instead drawing crowds of up to 8000 for country Victorian club Yarrawonga.