Usain Bolt will not sign a contract with the Central Coast Mariners after all, with the club failing to secure the third party sponsorships required to meet his asking price. Bolt was looking for a payment of around $3 million for a one year deal, however the Mariners could only offer $150,000.
Bolt played some trial games for the Mariners and did not set the world on fire, despite scoring two goals against a makeshift Macarthur FC team. Bolt would probably not have got onto the field during an A-League game, and his skills were not at a high enough level for the A-League to dip into its marquee player fund to help pay his fee.
That does not mean that the experiment has been a failure, however. Bolt’s efforts to secure a contract have attracted worldwide attention to Australia’s premier football competition, as well as to the Mariners. Images of him doing his trademark “Lightning Bolt” stance after scoring a goal in a Mariners jersey have been seen all over the world.
The undefeated Olympic champion sprinter had speed on his side, but lacked finesse with the ball – understandably, since he was competing against players who have spent their entire lives training and playing soccer. While his height and natural athleticism gave him chances, he didn’t quite meet the required standard to attract a large contract or marquee payments.
Serious football followers are likely to welcome the news, as the Bolt show has detracted somewhat from the opening A-League rounds. Now that he is officially not playing this season, they will be hoping that media attention turns to the actual football.
For those who just wanted to see the man who won 8 Olympic Gold Medals (a 9th for sprint relay was stripped from him due to a teammates use of performance enhancing drugs) play football, however, the news is a disaster.