Coach in dark as Bolt offered Mariners contract
OLYMPIC champion Usain Bolt will have to decide how much he wants to be a footballer after the Central Coast Mariners tabled a low-key offer for him to sign a professional deal.
It's understood that the contract does not involve a financial contribution from Football Federation Australia's marquee fund, and is only a fraction of the $3 million that Bolt's management had discussed months ago when the prospect of an Australian trial was first mooted.
Tabled on the back of an offer to Bolt from Maltese side Valetta in the past few days, the Mariners deal will test his resolve to become a footballer, and comes after FFA discussed a marketing agreement with Bolt based on
But it remains to be seen how the prospect of Bolt joining the Mariners' squad full time plays out with the rest of the team, after coach Mike Mulvey claimed to have no knowledge of it in the wake of his side's 1-1 draw with Brisbane in their opening game of the season.
The original deal that was put together in May - on the premise of Bolt passing a trial first - came in at around $3 million, based on FFA contributing $750,000 and other sponsors also topping it up.
Mariners owner Mike Charlesworth had initially pledged $1.5 million towards an overall figure acceptable to Bolt, but it's thought the deal offered to the sprinter this week is around 10 per cent of that.
The decision to offer Bolt a contract represents a substantial acceleration of the Mariners' timetable spelled out just weeks ago by Mulvey, who said the 32-year-old's "open-ended trial" should not be judged a success or failure until at least January.
The player himself had concurred, telling News Corp Australia: "I've said that, that maybe in four months I'll be at a level. That's what I give myself, four solid months of training and working, getting games here and there, getting 20 minutes or half an hour."
But on Sunday Mulvey queried how Bolt could expect game time after watching his team match Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium to earn a first-round point.
"We don't talk about speculation - I don't know anything about that," Mulvey said.
"That's a few pay grades above my level."
When pressed, Mulvey expressed doubt about Bolt's ability to play in his team.
"I do appreciate how important this story is for the rest of the world, but you have a look at our front line today and you wonder whether he's get into any of those positions, wouldn't you?" Mulvey said.
"I don't know anything that you're talking about, and that's the God's honest truth."
Mulvey was disappointed his side could not hold on to the fourth-minute lead they had through Connor Pain, but was pleased with the Mariners' effort.
"A draw in the end was probably the right result but when you go in front, you look at it and say 'we could have held on to that', but we had our chances, they had their chances … but overall I can't complain," he said.
"We did ride our luck and Brisbane Roar are a good side, so we'll take a point.
"I want to win, but I cannot fault my players today, I thought they were fantastic. We really dug deep when we needed to.
"It's the first game of the season. We will improve, we'll get better and not many teams will come to Brisbane and take points off them I'm sure, because they're a good side."