The world’s fastest man may soon be Australia’s fastest soccer player. Usain Bolt agreed to a trial with Australia’s Central Coast Mariners Monday, but it’s unclear whether or not he’ll ever take the field for the A-League club.
‘‘The deal between the Mariners and Usain Bolt in principle has been agreed, subject to a couple of benchmarks,’’ agent Tony Rallis told Big Sports Breakfast on Tuesday morning. ‘‘Mainly, a trial, and of course marquee funds support from the FFA.”
That support would come in the form of nearly $1 million Australian from Football Federation Australia (FFA), who would have to essentially subsidize the acquisition to bring Bolt down under. Any deal would begin with a six-week trial to test the Jamaican’s pitch-readiness. The $900,000+ plus in FFA funds wouldn’t be for that tryout, but would be part of a seven-figure contract should Bolt ace his audition and land a spot on the team’s roster.
“If all goes well, who knows?” Mariners chief executive Shaun Mielekamp told Seven Network. “He may be lighting up the A-League this season. The most important thing is we wait to find out and see how good a footballer he is first, Time will tell at what level he is at and if it fits the A-League.”
Jumping to Australia wouldn’t be the high profile Borussia Dortmund signing Bolt had teased earlier in the year, but it could be the catalyst for a full-time career change. The 31-year-old retired from competitive track last August, but has been searching for his second act ever since. He spent time in May training with Norway top-league club Stromsgodset and even made an appearance for them in an exhibition against the nation’s under-19 team.
I've signed for a football team! Find out which one this Tuesday at 8am GMT pic.twitter.com/iFTlWxfy7x— Usain St. Leo Bolt (@usainbolt) February 25, 2018
Bolt’s arrival would be a major boon for the Mariners — at least as an attraction. The team finished 10th in the 10-team A-League in 2017-18, winning just four of its 27 games in the process. That leaves some low expectations for the former sprinter — and the assurance he couldn’t really make things worse.
Is the push to sign Bolt a stunt from Central Coast? It certainly could be. But the 2013 A-League champions face a massive gap between themselves and Australia’s top clubs. If the FFA helps subsidize the acquisition, it could be a low-risk, high-reward move that helps raise the Mariners’ profile at little cost to the team itself.