Usain Bolt mess takes a new twist
CENTRAL Coast Mariners have clarified Usain Bolt's contract situation amid speculation the Olympic superstar had rejected an offer from the A-League club.
A report suggested Bolt had turned down the Mariners' proposal but the club issued a press release on Tuesday saying it was still in negotiations with the sprint king after tabling a deal.
"The club can confirm that a contract proposal has been offered by the Central Coast Mariners and negotiations remain ongoing with Usain Bolt and his management regarding his football future," the statement said.
"Both parties are eager to explore all options and ensure that if there is a suitable way forward for both player and Club, the two parties will keep working together and formalise an agreement.
"The Central Coast Mariners want to ensure that Usain Bolt is given every chance possible to fulfil his dream to become a professional football player."
The Mariners said Bolt has made "great progression" since arriving on the Central Coast and are hopeful of seeing more improvement in him as he receives extensive individual training and gets more game time, but admitted it has limited opportunities to get him on the pitch outside the A-League.
However, the club revealed it is "unlikely" the two parties will come to an agreement if it is unable to find commercial partners to bolster the deal offered to Bolt.
"Regarding the commercial terms of the negotiations, Usain Bolt's management and the Central Coast Mariners are in conversations with external partners to find a commercial solution that suits all parties," the Mariners said.
"It is important to note, that contract values speculated in the media are incorrect. Without the financial contribution of an external third-party, it is unlikely that Usain Bolt and the Central Coast Mariners will agree to terms."
To ensure Bolt's situation doesn't become a "distraction" for his teammates as they prepare to face Melbourne City, Bolt will not train with the main squad this week.
Fox Sports football reporter Daniel Garb said on Monday he expected Bolt's trial at Gosford to come to an end "pretty quickly".
"It looks like the Usain Bolt trial is set to end pretty quickly. I think it's run its race, pardon the pun," Garb said.
"The deal that's been offered is set to be rejected, we understand, and that's the latest news doing the rounds at the moment that Usain Bolt - it could be revealed overnight, probably tomorrow, it's all set to end - his role at Gosford, and the Central Coast Mariners, and onwards the club moves and onwards Usain Bolt moves.
"But it won't be together, that's the understanding."A-League boss Greg O'Rourke said the Mariners' initial offer was "much, much less than (the Bolt camp) were originally requesting". It was reported the deal was around $150,000, well below the $3 million reportedly being sought by Bolt's team.
O'Rourke reiterated that Football Federation Australia (FFA) wouldn't dip into its marquee fund for any Bolt deal.
"There's no funding from the marquee fund, as we said from day one," he said. "The marquee fund has secured people like Keisuke Honda and Sam Kerr with football pedigree and Usain Bolt has yet to become a professional footballer anywhere in the world."
But O'Rourke said marketing components had been discussed with Bolt's potential contract.
"There were some marketing conversations about contributions towards attendances at games, appearance fees if you like," he said.
"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."
Bolt scored twice for the Mariners in a pre-season friendly this month but didn't travel to Brisbane on Sunday when the Mariners drew 1-1 with the Roar in their A-League season-opener.
Reports of the contract offer to Bolt emerged midway through the game but Mariners coach Mike Mulvey said post-game he was unaware of the development, suggesting the club didn't need the addition of the 32-year-old given its healthy stocks up front.
"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.
"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."