Bolt’s Flirtation With Football In Australia On The Rocks
Usain Bolt’s football dream Down Under is now relying on a financial injection from a third party, after it was widely reported that he has rejected a meagre offer from Australian club Central Coast Mariners.
And the 32-year-old, on trial with the outfit since August, has seemingly been deemed to be “not ready” by A-League chief Greg O’Rourke.
The former sprinter, an eight-time Olympic champion, retired from athletics last year and has since had unsuccessful football trials in Germany, South Africa and Norway before giving Australia a shot.
His arrival in Australia has given the A-League global publicity, and works out perfectly for Bolt as he has a highly lucrative deal as the face of Optus, Australia’s second-largest telecommunications company.
But a measly contract offer by the Mariners has left the Jamaican superstar in limbo in terms of kick-starting his football career.
His agent demanded 20 times as much to sign for the Mariners, but this was because it was expected that the Football Federation Australia (FFA) would contribute.
Yet the FFA don’t believe that they will get value for money on one of the world’s most marketable sports stars.
O’Rourke agrees: “If you think about the digital views of uploading his trial and his goals compared to normal A-League reach numbers, they are significantly higher.
“A lot of those views are international, which is nice as it brings recognition to the League. But it doesn’t actually bring people to the gate nor subscriptions to Australian broadcasters.”
So Bolt, who is chewing over the contract on offer, urgently requires a substantial third party contribution if he is to stay in Australia and pursue his footballing dream.
Mike Mulvey, the head coach of Mariners, is not exactly enamoured by Bolt and given him just 92 minutes on the pitch in their pre-seaon friendlies.
Bolt was excluded from last weekend’s season opener to decide on the tabled deal, and is excluded indefinitely from training with the Mariners until the contract is agreed.
O’Rourke added: “They [Mariners] have put an offer on the table to Usain that effectively places the ball in Usain’s court.
“They’re not sure how he and his management are going to respond to that. I think it will be played out in a matter of days or weeks”
But then O’Rourke put the boot in: “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?
“And the answer to that, at this point in time, from himself and the club, is that he’s not ready.”
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