Australia’s Central Coast Mariners have offered sprint superstar Usain Bolt a contract, but it is said to be a fraction of the sum first proposed.
Despite club coach Mike Mulvey saying he knows absolutely nothing about the deal on Sunday, Bolt’s agent told the BBC an offer had been tabled, and A-League boss Greg O’Rourke confirmed it.
“I understand from Central Coast Mariners that they have tabled an offer to Usain Bolt’s management which he is considering,” O’Rourke said on SEN Afternoons.
“That offer is much, much less than they were originally requesting.
“That’s really reflected that if Usain wants to join the club and become a footballer he should follow a journey pretty similar to any triallist.
“Not withstanding for a minute the amount of marketing that somebody like Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world, can bring to the Central Coast and the broader A-League.”
According to the Daily Telegraph, the initial $3 million contract – that his management had discussed months ago when the prospect of a trial was first mooted – had largely been wiped out.
The newspaper said the potential deal put together in May, on the premise of Bolt passing a trial first, was based on Football Federation Australia contributing Aus$750,000 and other sponsors also topping it up.
Mariners owner Mike Charlesworth had initially pledged Aus$1.5 million, but the deal now offered to the sprinter was much less than this, it added.
The eight-time Olympic champion has been on trial with the A-League side since arriving in August to fulfil his dream of becoming a professional footballer.
He scored two goals in a pre-season friendly last week and on Thursday turned down a two-year, trial-free deal from cashed-up Maltese champions Valletta.
“I can confirm Usain has been offered a contract by Central Coast Mariners,” the Jamaican’s agent Ricky Simms told the BBC.
The 32-year-old’s form so far has been criticised by several pundits, but his two goals captured the imagination of the sporting public.
Club coach Mike Mulvey said he had heard nothing of an offer, and cast doubt on whether Bolt, who likes to play up front, would make the grade given the quality of players he already has at his disposal.
“You have a look at our front line today and you wonder whether he could get into any of those positions. Wouldn’t you?” Mulvey said after the team drew their opening A-League game of the season 1-1 away to Brisbane Roar on Sunday.
“I do appreciate how important this story is for the rest of the world.
“You’re just talking about speculation. I don’t know anything about what you’re talking about and that’s God’s honest truth.”
The Mariners boast Aston Villa striker Ross McCormack on their payroll, after the Scottish international agreed a season-long loan deal.
They also have Tommy Oar, who has played 28 times for the Socceroos, along with Connor Pain, who cleverly scored their goal on Sunday.
It was initially understood Football Federation Australia would not contribute to the deal, and O’Rourke is adamant that remains to be the case.
“There’s no funding from the marquee fund as we said from day one because the marquee fund has secured people like Keisuke Honda and Sam Kerr with football pedigree,” he said.
“Usain Bolt has yet to become a professional footballer anywhere in the world.
“There were some marketing conversations about contributions towards attendances at games, appearance fees if you like, but as for funding him as a footballer then the FFA has been consistent in that they won’t fund him.
“That won’t change.”