Australians still hopeful over Usain Bolt contract offer

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Usain Bolt. Adrian Zwegers via Flickr.

Reports suggest a deal between track and field legend Usain Bolt and Australian football club Central Coast Mariners could still happen, despite the Mariners suggesting that extra finances would be needed to secure it.

BBC Sport say that the Australian FA have stepped in to try and resolve the situation, meaning there’s still hope that the Jamaican could become a permanent player.

It follows an update posted by the Mariners on their website, in which the club confirmed that a “contract proposal has been offered” and mentioned there being two key areas of negotiation between staff, Bolt, and his agent Ricky Simms.

These are “football and commercial”. Firstly seeking to clarify his commitment and map out a path for his development in his new sport. Secondly, there is of course a big financial element to nailing down one of the world’s major superstars.

Crucially, the club said “without the financial contribution of an external third-party, it is unlikely that Usain Bolt and the Central Coast Mariners will agree to terms.”

Consequently, it was also announced that the 32-year-old wouldn’t train with the rest of the squad in preparation for this weekend’s match against Melbourne City, implying that Bolt will need to sign a formal agreement, before he can return to the first team.

The 100m and 200m world record holder turned down a contract offer with Maltese side Valletta FC last week and could foreseeably hold out for other options to come in.

Central Coast Mariners have shown real commitment to developing Bolt. You can’t help but think that they’re taking his football ambitions more seriously than others have so far. They also seem to be open and honest in outlining the potential shortcomings of any deal.

The eight-time Olympic champion started the year by training with Mamelodi Sundowns in South Africa, before joking that he would try and get footage to Jose Mourinho during a trial with Borussia Dortmund.

In May, as the athletics season hit full speed, Bolt was in Norway with Strømsgodset. He played in a friendly against a Norwegian under-19 side, wearing the number “9.58” in allusion to his 100 m world record. The Jamaican then wore the same number in a Soccer Aid charity friendly match.

There was ongoing debate over whether he’d be best as a striker or left-winger, but not playing competitive matches and having made up numbers on the back of a shirt suggest ‘joker’ might be a better position.

But Jamaica’s finest certainly repaid some faith by scoring twice on his CCM debut against Macarthur South West United in Sydney. Speaking to broadcasters afterwards, he said “I’m keen (to become a Mariners player), that’s why I’m here to play my best and try to get into the team.”

More recently, on his Instagram page, he’s hit out at those criticising his talent saying “they laugh at the dream…they ridicule the hard work…listen me youths…remember, if you don’t try, you’ve already failed.” Irish footballer Andy Keogh stuck the nail in pretty hard by joking that Bolt had a touch “like a trampoline” on the pitch.

A-League boss Greg O’Rourke is still hopeful. He told the Australian Associated Press that he expects Usain Bolt to make a decision on the contract offer from Central Coast Mariners in the next few days or weeks.

“They have put an offer on the table to Usain and that effectively places the ball in Usain’s court, they’re not sure how he and his management are going to respond to that,” O’Rourke said.

“I think it will be played out in a matter of days or weeks. The question has been, and will remain, is he ready to be a footballer? And if so, is he ready to be an A-League footballer?”

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First published on: 24 October, 2018 12:16 pm

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