Usain Bolt will not be signing for Central Coast Mariners, the Australian football club confirmed on Friday.
The A-League side wanted to sign Bolt after watching him closely during his eight-week trial period but were unable to secure a “commercial solution” to keep the Olympic legend at the club.
Bolt reportedly wanted a contract worth $3 million a year, which was way below the Mariners’ initial $150,000 annual salary offer.
The Australian team’s contract proposal was broken down into “football” and “commercial” terms but hinged on a contribution from a “third party”.
No deal could be reached, despite meetings with “several promising potential partners”, and Bolt now finds himself without a club.
The 32-year-old, who recently rejected an unconditional two-year deal from Maltese champions Valletta FC, has been mocked for trying to achieve his post-athletics ambition of becoming a professional footballer.
Former Republic of Ireland striker Andy Keogh, who currently plies his trade with Perth Glory, caused a stir by claiming Bolt had a first touch “like a trampoline”.
"He's not going to be able to make it," Keogh told Off the Ball. "It's nice to have the attention on the A-League but him playing here, that's not for me.
"He's shown a bit of potential but it's a little bit of a kick in the teeth to the professionals that are in the league."
"If there's someone who genuinely thinks he'd be a good football addition, I don't think they should be in a position to make those calls.”
His performances during his trial with the Mariners, in truth, left a lot to be desired.
Although he scored two goals in his final trial match against second-tier outfit Macarthur South West United last month, anyone who watched him closely could see that his technical qualities weren’t really up to the standards expected of a professional footballer playing at a reasonably high level.
Following the news of Bolt’s departure from the Mariners, the Daily Mail’s football editor Ian Ladyman has posted a tweet which hits the nail on the head.
“I would imagine the Usain Bolt saga has been a sobering lesson for the Aussie A-League,” Ladyman tweeted. “He was never good enough, despite how hard they tried to pretend otherwise. Shambles, really.”
Indeed, the whole thing has felt like a PR exercise from start to finish.
Having Bolt on their books has certainly boosted the club’s global profile - but did they ever seriously believe that he was good enough to play for them?
With the exception of blistering speed and a half-decent left-foot, Bolt does not appear to possess the ability required to make it in professional football.
That’s obviously a shame because Bolt seems genuinely passionate about making it in the sport.
You suspect he still won’t give up on his dream following this latest setback - but he will probably need to face the fact that playing for a big club is extremely unlikely to happen for him.