Usain Bolt drawing interest from Turkey, Hungary, U.S. clubs - report
The publicity blitz around Usain Bolt's proposed trial at the Central Coast Mariners could cost the Australian club the opportunity to land the Jamaican sprint star in his switch to football.
Clubs from around the world have been alerted to the potential riches on offer by signing Bolt, with the Mariners now facing a battle just to get their mooted six-week trial over the line.
The Australian Associated Press reported that teams in Turkey, Hungary and the United States are among those to have entered the race for the eight-time Olympic champion.
Some of them are keen to offer Bolt a contract straight away, rather than put him through his paces first as the Mariners intend to do.
Major League Soccer teams have "no interest" in signing Bolt, sources told ESPN FC in the wake of AAP's report, leaving only lower-level clubs in the U.S.
Unlike MLS clubs, USL teams do not sign players as a single entity and could pursue Bolt, but a source close to the second-division American league said he doubted any teams would be interested.
Central Coast CEO Shaun Mielekamp is set to fly to London this weekend in an attempt to seal the deal with Bolt, his long-time agent Ricky Simms and Australian intermediary Tony Rallis, who first floated the 31-year-old's availability to A-League clubs.
Simms told AAP on Tuesday the Mariners were only one of a number of options on the table for Bolt.
Mielekamp will also meet with Mike Phelan, the Mariners' new football director, who will reportedly be responsible for overseeing the trial if it happens.
If it doesn't, the Mariners have at least got their name out there. Independent media monitoring analysis conducted by the club has shown 130 million people read about Bolt's link in the 30 hours following the revelations. It would have cost them $4.5 million to buy the same amount of media coverage that was generated.
Some have dismissed it as a brazen publicity stunt while Football Federation Australia, who have been asked to tip in around $900,000 from their marquee player fund in the event Bolt was to succeed in his trial, have reacted somewhat coolly to the prospect.
"It's completely random," Brisbane Roar striker Adam Taggart said when asked about Bolt's potential A-League move. "But I guess if that's what Central Coast are keen to do, then that's what they're keen to do.
"It'd obviously be pretty interesting to have a character like that in the league. I'm just happy I'm not a defender having to run against him if he does come."