The "Usain Bolt A-League experiment could be over," according to Ray Gatt of THE AUSTRALIAN. Bolt is "reportedly the subject of an unconditional offer to join a club in Europe." Australian agent Tony Rallis, who brokered the deal to bring the eight-time Olympic Gold Medalist to the Central Coast Mariners for trials, confirmed that "an offer is on the table." However, Rallis "would not divulge any more information," except to say that the A-League "would lose one of its best marketing and promotion tools if Bolt decided to leave." The offer is reportedly a "two-years-plus-one deal and carries no conditions." He "does not have to trial and would go straight into the team for his first fully fledged professional match" if he accepts the deal. It is understood the club "is owned by a group of wealthy Arabs" and plays in one of the "lesser European leagues which does not have automatic qualification" to the Champions League. The owners "have huge ambitions and are looking to win the title and earn the right to play in the Champions League qualifiers" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 10/15). In Sydney, Emma Kemp reported Central Coast "may have to move fast" to sign Bolt. It is understood the "in-writing approach, which comes with attached commercial incentives, was made over the weekend" after Bolt scored twice in his "full Mariners debut" on Friday. It "throws into sharp relief the 32-year-old’s situation at the Mariners," as the club awaits confirmation from Football Federation Australia on "how much and in what manner it is willing to contribute" to a prospective A$3M ($2.14M) A-League contract. Bolt’s first goal "quickly went viral" and was viewed more than 6 million times on Central Coast’s Twitter account. Since Bolt arrived two months ago, the Mariners "have reached a global audience of more than 500 million people," bringing the A-League an "unprecedented level" of preseason exposure. Mariners Owner Mike Charlesworth "is willing to front up a large chunk of any contract" but is hoping FFA will "tip in the remaining sum." The "key now" is FFA, which acknowledged the "effervescent sprint star’s powerful marketing power" but emphasized the ultimate responsibility lies with Central Coast. FFA CEO David Gallop said, "The ball's still in the Mariners' and Usain's court. ... Whether they’re ready to take that next step and sign a contract is still very much their call. Having said that, we’ve indicated in the past that if they do take that step we will look to see how we can feasibly help them financially" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 10/15). ESPN.com's Brantz & Hamilton reported Bolt was offered a two-year contract to play for Maltese club Valletta and "spearhead" its charge to the Champions League. Valletta Managing Dir & CEO Ghasston Slimen said that the club hopes to sign Bolt "in time for him to participate" in its Maltese Super Cup match on Dec. 13 against Balzan. Slimen: "A champion is always welcome and at Valletta FC we believe nothing is impossible." He added that he "hoped Bolt could pave the way for more athletes to switch sports" (ESPN.com, 10/15).
GOOD FOR THE GAME?: ESPN.com's Stuart Randall reported Bolt's performance on Friday was "greeted with mixed reactions," with many people within the Australian game viewing the Jamaican's attempts at gaining a professional deal with the Gosford-based side as "nothing more than a sideshow, distracting from the real business of a new A-League season." The "battle lines are seemingly drawn" between those perceived as "purists," who scoff at Bolt's attempts to make it as a pro, and "those who see any publicity as good publicity." Publicly, many experts are complimentary of Bolt's efforts. Privately, they doubt that a contract will ever materialize (ESPN.com, 10/15).
MUST-SEE TV: The AAP's Matt Encarnacion reported Australia's W-League football marquee player, Sam Kerr, believes Bolt is worth marquee "money and standing." Kerr and Japanese player Keisuke Honda headlined the respective W-League and A-League launches in Sydney on Monday, but it is "hard not to think Bolt should be there with them as he grabs headlines with his audacious code switch." Kerr: "If I wasn't a Nike athlete, I definitely would be rocking a Central Coast jersey with 95 on it. I'm not going to lie: I turned on the Central Coast game the other day just to watch him. So if it's appealing to people like me, I'm sure it is to other people" (AAP, 10/15).
'ELITE ATHLETE': The BBC reported Bolt "questioned why he has received a notice" for a drug test from the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority, "saying he is not yet a professional footballer." Bolt said that he was told he is being tested as he is an "elite athlete." He posted an image of the drug test notice on Instagram and said in the post, "So guys I've retired from track and field looking to become a footballer but look at this." The notice from ASADA requesting blood and urine "appears to have been issued" by FFA (BBC, 10/15).