Bolt ‘unlikely’ to earn Aussie deal
GOSFORD, Australia — Usain Bolt has been excluded from team practice with the Central Coast Mariners after his management rejected a contract offer.
The eight-time Olympic champion sprinter has been on an indefinite trial period with the A-League club since August in a bid to become a professional soccer player.
He scored two goals in a preseason friendly but wasn’t in the lineup for the Mariners’ A-League season opener last weekend, a 1-1 draw at Brisbane Roar.
The Mariners are in talks with Bolt’s agent, Ricky Simms, but have 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”.
The Mariners issued a statement on Tuesday, saying: “To ensure that there is no distraction to the A-League squad in preparing for this weekend’s match versus Melbourne City, Usain Bolt will not attend team training this week, until and if the club and Usain Bolt can agree to terms and formalize an arrangement.”
No details of were confirmed.
The 32-year-old Bolt retired from competitive athletics last year and has since explored pro soccer options in Germany, South Africa, Norway and Australia in hopes of gaining a contract.
His first match for Central Coast, an exhibition against a selection of amateur players, attracted a big crowd, and Bolt’s bid to join the A-League has generated plenty of headlines.
But skeptics have questioned the Jamaican’s ability to play at an elite level while the offers others have written it off as a publicity stunt.
In the statement, Central Coast said it was trying to keep the soccer and commercial negotiations separate.
“Usain has made great progression during his time on the Central Coast and we feel that he will improve further with more individual intensive training and competitive game time,” the statement said. “We are looking at ways to do this as the club does not have the luxury to be able to do this in the A-League.”