Usain Bolt has never faced worries during his career. The Jamaican sprinter impressed the world in three Olympic Games, as he won three gold medals in each Olympics - 9 in total. Even when he failed, like in his disqualification during the 100 meters final in 2011 World Championship, Bolt became bigger and stronger every time.
More than a year has passed since his last run. A sudden injury during a relay race was the last scene of his career. Now, Usain Bolt is trying to get back to the stadiums and trying to create something different. Bolt will try to become a football player, but it is going to be much harder than he thinks.
Usain Bolt has always wanted to be a footballer. More than once he was invited to Old Trafford as a special guest of his favorite club, Manchester United. "For me, if I could get to play for Manchester United, that would be like a dream come true," said Bolt in an interview to The Guardian in 2016.
During the last year he has trained with several teams. The first time was in January, when he was presented in South Africa as a Mamelodi Sundowns player. Eventually, it was just a PR stunt to promote a charity match that was scheduled to be played a few months later. Later on, he also trained with Borussia Dortmund and Norwegian side Strømsgodset. During his time in Norway, Bolt took part in a friendly match against the Norway U-19 national team.
His arrival to Central Coast Mariners, a team that finished last in the Australian A-League a year ago, wasn't supposed to be different. The team couldn't refuse a better hype before the beginning of a new season. His first match was a friendly match against Macarthur South West United, an amateur local club. Bolt took this game seriously, as he scored a brace and celebrated each goal with his signature celebration.
Yet, something was missing for the spectators who have seen Bolt playing. During the match, Bolt’s positioning was not good enough. Even though he scored twice, Bolt’s finishing was also not good enough for someone who intends to play as a striker. According to the reporters, he was still far away from being a decent footballer.
During the last days, senior reporters have announced that Central Coast Mariners offered a contract to Bolt. It was rumored that he was offered a wage of 2.1 million dollars and a marquee player status, which means that his wage would not be part of the salary cap. Part of this wage will be paid by the Australian FA, that may pay up to half a million dollars.
While the negotiations are on, there are some people that were not part of it. Surprisingly, also the head coach, Mike Mulvey, was not part of this offer. "We don't talk about speculation," said the coach in a press conference, "I do appreciate how important this story is for the rest of the world, but if you have a look at our front line today you wonder if he could get into any of those positions, wouldn't you?"
It took time until the team made an official statement about this offer. Their main point was the fact that the main problem in this offer is actually commercial issues. "Usain Bolt’s management and the Central Coast Mariners are in conversations with external partners to find a commercial solution that suits all parties," was written in the statement, that gives a hint about the financial ability of the club to complete deal and more than that, about the agent crew that Bolt hired for this mission.
There is another important side in this deal, the Australian FA. Even though that the team didn't confirm any of the numbers that were written in the press, it seems that the possible move of Bolt to Australia was already planned back in May. According to the reports, this deal was planned to be funded by the FFA Marquee Fund. This fund was behind the signing of Keisuke Honda by Melbourne Victory and the return of Sam Kerr, one of the leading Australian female footballers, to the local W-League.
Yet, the FFA are less enthusiastic for such kind of funding. They will be happy if Bolt will promote the league, but they don't want to give him a marquee status. "The FFA has been consistent that they won't fund him as a footballer," said Greg O'Rourke, the FFA Head of Leagues. "The marquee fund has secured players like Keisuke Honda and Sam Kerr, people with football pedigree. Bolt has yet to become a professional footballer anywhere in the world."
David Gallop, the FFA Chairman also criticized this initiative, as he said that he understands the importance of Bolt for promoting the league, but it can't be instead of being in a professional player level. The A-League commentator, Simon Hill, summarized it strictly: "I just don’t think he’s at the standard required, however, that may not be the primary consideration here. If that were to happen, who’s next, Roger Federer? Tiger Woods? We’ve got to treat our league seriously."
The situation now is simple. The negotiations between Bolt and the Australian club may not be completed. Therefore, Central Coast Mariners announced that Bolt wouldn't take part anymore in training sessions, unless the deal will be done. Bolt and his agents’ demands seems to be extremely high, and it doesn't seems that any other club will take the chance to sign him. Actually, Maltese champions, Valletta FC, have made the only offer he got except from the Australian one.
The influence and impact of Bolt are high and can't be ignored. With 9 million followers in Instagram and 5 million followers in Twitter, every step he will do as a football player will attract his fans, just like when he competed at the Olympics.
Considering his low level as a footballer, the only question is whether any club would like to take a risk and spend so much money in order to sign him. It may not improve the level of the team, but it can bring a club to a higher level of attention and make it more known in the world.