The clock is ticking on Usain Bolt’s race to extend his stay in the A-League, with sources telling ESPN that a contract with the Central Coast Mariners is looking unlikely.
While negotiations with Bolt’s agent Ricky Simms continue, the offer made by the Mariners is estimated by the Sydney Morning Herald to be in the region of $150,000 — well short of the $3 million the sprint legend is requesting.
Sources have told ESPN that Bolt is due to be in London in four weeks time for a promotional engagement and is currently holding a one-way ticket in the event that no contract is forthcoming. However, with news out of the club today indicating Bolt is no longer training alongside the A-League players, that four-week timeline looks to have shortened considerably.
“To ensure that there is no distraction to the Hyundai A-League squad in preparing for this weekend’s match vs. Melbourne City; Usain Bolt will not attend team training this week, until and if, the club and Usain Bolt can agree to terms and formalise an arrangement,” the Mariners said in a statement on Tuesday.
The statement also confirms that a third party commercial partner would be required for both parties to agree to terms, as FFA stand firm in their refusal to dip into the marquee fund.
With actual game-time not the main driver in contract discussions, and an appearance in an A-League match unlikely, sources have also told ESPN that Mariners owner Mike Charlesworth may be the only one at the club keen to see a deal struck.
The British entrepreneur flew into Australia last month to watch Bolt’s 20-minute debut on the Central Coast and, despite an underwhelming first outing from the Jamaican superstar, Charlesworth seemed more than convinced by the hype in the stands.
“I don’t know if anyone could tell me a Central Coast player who has ever sold almost 10,000 tickets before,” Charlesworth told the Daily Telegraph at the time.
“I mean what effect has Keisuke Honda made on ticket sales with Melbourne Victory. So while this is a risk, it’s a calculated risk”
That was almost two months ago and since then, Mariners head coach Mike Mulvey has had plenty of time to assess Bolt’s capabilities and was honest about his chances when talking to broadcaster Fox Sports at the Mariners opening match on the weekend.
“Do you think he’ll get in our front three?” Mulvey asked. “We’ve got a very good front third.”