Central Coast Mariners have confirmed a contract has been offered to eight-time Olympic gold medal-winner Usain Bolt and negotiations remain ongoing despite reports he's turned down their deal.
Fairfax Media (h/t Dominic Bossi of the Sydney Morning Herald) reported Bolt's chances of playing in the A-League were "all but over" after the Mariners' offer was said to have been too low.
It's understood the Australian club offered to pay Bolt a little less than $150,000, which is the average salary in the division. Bolt is said to have been seeking an annual wage of $3 million.
The Mariners' statement went on to say the club are in negotiations with outside sources of revenue to finance the deal, adding it was "unlikely that Usain Bolt and the Central Coast Mariners will agree to terms" without one.
Sports writer Ray Gatt didn't hold up much hope for someone stepping forward with the necessary funds, however:
Bolt will be prevented from training with the rest of the Central Coast squad until his future has been resolved and an agreement reached as they look to seal what could be a commercial coup.
It's been suggested Bolt lacks the quality needed to play A-League football and has looked off the pace in trial appearances, though he did score twice in a recent friendly against Macarthur South West United, via ESPN:
The club could perhaps do with some form of change after finishing bottom of the A-League in two of the past three seasons. They won only four times last term, which is only one more than the all-time club low of three victories recorded in 2015-16.
There's also a stumbling block in convincing coach Mike Mulvey to come around to the deal, as he suggested this week that there's no room in his attack for what could turn out as just a gimmick, via Guardian:
They face Melbourne City in their second match of the A-League season on Saturday, by which point the Mariners should know for certain whether they are signing Bolt or not for the 2018-19 campaign.