Usain Bolt will sit out training with the Central Coast Mariners while he mulls over a contract offer from the Australian club.
The Mariners confirmed they have submitted a professional deal to the legendary sprinter and his representative, Ricky Simms, and negotiations between both parties are ongoing. The statement expressed the soccer outfit’s “want to ensure that Usain Bolt is given every chance possible to fulfill his dream to become a professional football player.”
The statement added: “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 formalize an arrangement.”
Following a string of charity matches and trials with Bundesliga behemoths Borussia Dortmund and Norwegian club Stromsgodset, the eight-time Olympic gold medalist is trying to earn a professional soccer contract at the age of 32. His project has been met with mixed reviews – some calling it an ambitious departure, others simply dubbing it a publicity stunt – but Bolt made the world sit up and take notice when he scored twice against Macarthur South West in a trial match on Oct. 13.
In the wake of that game, Maltese side Valletta FC presented professional terms to Bolt in the hopes that he could provide striking weaponry capable of firing them into the Champions League. Bolt rejected their offer.
Despite his meager experience in the game, Bolt’s management team is seeking an annual salary of around $3 million, according to The Sydney Morning Herald’s Vince Rugari. The offer that is apparently on the table – $150,000 from the club and a further $100,000 via a marketing contract drawn up by Football Federation Australia – would fall well below what Bolt and his entourage are requesting.
However, the Mariners insist that the sums stated in the media are incorrect.
“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 statement reads. “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.”
Bolt is currently on a four-week promotional engagement in London, ESPN’s Stephanie Brantz reports, and holds a one-way ticket in the event that no agreement is reached over a professional contract. However, that four-week timeline may be shortened considerably now that Bolt knows he has been temporarily shut out of Mariners training.