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Volume 7 No. 149

International Football

Central Coast Mariners say it remains "business as usual" for Bolt.
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

A-League side Central Coast Mariners is "not buying into the speculation surrounding Usain Bolt’s European offer, declaring it is business as usual" for the eight-time Olympic Gold Medalist, according to Ray Gatt of THE AUSTRALIAN. The Mariners have some "serious competition" if they want to sign Bolt after Maltese side Valletta confirmed it approached Bolt with an offer to join the club "immediately on a two-year, plus one-year option contract." Central Coast CEO Shaun Mielekamp "could not throw any further light on the latest development." He said, "Usain Bolt will continue his indefinite training period with the Central Coast Mariners until any further notice. The club will be making no comment on media speculation regarding the future of Usain Bolt." There are suggestions that "the Bolt camp has been using the overseas interest in him as a ploy to force the Mariners into signing him." It "has also been suggested it is being used to put extra pressure" on Football Federation Australia to dip into its funds to "top up a contract for him" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 10/16).

EASY WAY OUT?: In Sydney, Vince Rugari opined Bolt has a "tough decision to make" after receiving a concrete offer to become a professional footballer. The Central Coast Mariners, the team that "indulged his dream," should be thanking their "lucky stars." A-League fans "might remember" Valletta as the "former home of infamous Melbourne Heart flop Michael Mifsud." Central Coast should not be "too disappointed." This could be the "perfect exit strategy" for the A-League club. The reality is Bolt "is not cut out for the A-League." Experienced defenders like Melbourne City's Bart Schenkeveld or Sydney FC's Alex Wilkinson "would eat him alive." However, Bolt "might not look so out of place in the Maltese Premier League, which is a few rungs down as far as standard of play" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 10/16).

ON THE DEFENSIVE: The PA reported the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority defended its decision to test Bolt. While the organization "refused to discuss Bolt’s case specifically," it pointed out that the Jamaican fell within its remit. ASADA said in a statement, "ASADA cannot discuss specific testing missions. Effective testing programs are critical to protect the integrity of sport and the right of athletes to compete on a level playing field" (PA, 10/16).

POOR CHOICE OF WORDS: RT reported Australian TV presenter David Koch "has come under fire" for using the word "slavery" to describe the potential sale of Bolt. Koch said on breakfast TV show "Sunrise," "So the Mariners sell him for money, they make a lot of money out of it?" Co-host Mark Beretta replied, "It’s a win-win. You keep him, great. You sell him, so be it, that’s the tough world of professional football." Koch added, "Who said slavery was over ... anyway, no" (RT, 10/16).

The Premier League "shortlisted" senior execs from the BBC and ITV ‎as it "prepares to conclude the hunt for a successor" to Exec Chair Richard Scudamore, according to Mark Kleinman of SKY NEWS. Tim Davie, who runs BBC Studios, and Tom Betts, ITV's strategy director, are reportedly among three contenders to become CEO of the world's "richest domestic football competition." A five-person panel, led by Chelsea Chair Bruce Buck, is expected to recommend a preferred candidate to a meeting of Premier League clubs in mid-November. The presence on the shortlist of Davie, who has "spearheaded" the BBC's commercial activities since '13, and Betts, ITV's director of corporate strategy, mergers and acquisitions, "may come as little surprise" given the nature of the Premier League role. Most of its income "is generated from domestic and overseas broadcast rights," while its move away from having a single title sponsor to multiple partnerships with the likes of Barclays, Cadbury, Coca-Cola ‎and Nike "has also reaped rich rewards." It is "unclear" who the other candidate is. Mike Darcey, a former exec at Sky, is a rumored contender, while Gavin Patterson, a "keen Liverpool supporter who will shortly step down" as BT Group's CEO, "is thought to have indicated that he is not interested in the role" (SKY NEWS, 10/13). In London, Jason Burt reported even if it is not Davie or Betts, it is "likely to be someone with their kind of background," which "points to the direction" in which the EPL is heading. That is definitely toward "new media, new platforms" and the monetizing of new markets. If it works, the Premier League could be on the brink of an "astonishing spike in revenue -- yet again" -- but if it does not, then its collective strength "could be seriously questioned," with the "Big Six" clubs "possibly renewing their threats to break away and be part of some kind of European league" (TELEGRAPH, 10/15).

The "anticipated announcement of which teams will be admitted into an expanded A-League" is expected to be delayed until a new Football Federation Australia board "is put in place next month," according to Ray Gatt of THE AUSTRALIAN. The current board reportedly made the decision on Monday at its "penultimate meeting as the custodians of the sport in this country" and was expected to issue a statement. It leaves the eight expansion hopefuls "in the dark for at least another six weeks" and "heightens fears expansion could be put on the backburner" for another season. It is also understood that Monday's meeting was split, with some directors "wanting to go ahead with an announcement and others preferring to leave it to the incoming directors" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 10/16). In Sydney, Eamonn Tiernan reported a "delayed decision" would likely push entry into the league back a season to '20-21, but Canberra has "firmed" as one of the favorites. Canberra is "the only ready-to-go bid with with a stadium deal, government support, a commitment from members and links to overseas clubs already in place" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 10/16).

ManU Manager José Mourinho was charged over "comments he made in Portuguese" to a TV camera after his side's win over Newcastle United. It is claimed Mourinho used "abusive, insulting or improper language" after the 3-2 comeback victory at Old Trafford on Oct. 6. The FA used a lip reader and the 55-year-old's remarks were "interpreted as offensive" (BBC, 10/16).

The European Parliament hosted a "high-level session" in Brussels on Tuesday "to tackle the growing problem of child trafficking in sport, primarily focusing on football." The event was co-hosted by MEP Bogdan Wenta, the European Parliament Intergroup on Sport and non-profit organization Mission 89 (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 10/16).

FIFA's Technical Study Group published its 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia report, which includes comprehensive statistics on the tournament and each individual match, team profiles and exclusive video footage to support the analysis (FIFA).