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Usain Bolt's A-League trial depends on FFA support

Soccer

Usain Bolt’s proposed A-League trial will go ahead – but only if Football Federation Australia agrees to contribute around $900,000 from its marquee fund should the Jamaican sprint king prove worthy of a contract.

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Australian football agent Tony Rallis says an “in-principle” deal has been reached to bring the eight-time Olympic gold medallist to the Central Coast Mariners for a six-week trial.

Rallis is currently in the UK and has been dealing directly with Bolt’s representative Ricky Simms, who he says is fully supportive of the idea.

Bolt, 31, retired from sprinting last year but has long harboured ambitions of a career in football.

“We’ve got a club that’s willing to allow him to trial and offer him the contract,” Rallis told AAP.

“We’ve got an athlete that’s prepared to meet the trial criteria and benchmarks.

“We just need some funding from the FFA to top it up.”

FFA has declined to comment, but it’s understood the governing body will not put funds towards a trial under any circumstances.

However, Rallis said that was not what he was after.

“We’re not asking them to fund a trial. If it materialises into a contract, that’s when we need some funding,” he said.

“We’re going through the proper channels, we’re just waiting for a reply.”

FFA has a pot of $3 million, provided by Fox Sports, to spend on marquee players for the upcoming season.

FFA is believed to be deep in talks with former Japanese international Keisuke Honda, who is interested in joining Melbourne Victory and would command the majority of the fund if he reaches an agreement with the A-League champions.

Conceivably, the rest could be allocated to Bolt in the event of a successful trial in Gosford.

The Mariners, who finished bottom of the table last season, confirmed they were “committed to discussions” with Bolt and his management team.

“It is crucial to note that all discussions between the Central Coast Mariners and Bolt require an initial six-week-trial period and no contract is guaranteed,” a club statement read.

Bolt played in a charity match for Unicef last month in London, captaining a “Soccer Aid World XI” team that featured Robbie Williams, Kevin Pietersen and Yaya Toure.

The team was co-coached by Eric Cantona and Harry Redknapp, who previously served as an ‘advisor’ to the Mariners in 2016.

Bolt reportedly had a goal chalked off for offside and hit the crossbar but scored in a penalty shootout, having warmed up for the match with a 20-minute spell for Norweigian side Stromsgodset in a friendly against Norway’s under-19s.

He has previously trained with clubs including Germany’s Borussia Dortmund and South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns and also played a practice match with Melbourne Heart’s youth team during a 2012 visit to Australia.

– AAP

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