Usain Bolt | Keisuke Honda | Brad Smith | Trent Sainsbury | Luke Brattan | Optus and Football
More assurances that the Usain Bolt trial is the real thing, and could Keisuke Honda play his first match for Melbourne Victory at Lambert Park?09 August 2018 | FT Editor
If there's one journo who deserves the first exclusive with Usain Bolt when he arrives next week, it's Ray Gatt - who has regularly and diligently covered Central Coast Mariners week-in, week-out in every A-League season.
Today, Gatt tells us that Mariners' General Manager, Shaun Mielekamp, says Bolt's trialling at the club is not a publicity stunt. The club is going to give Bolt time to develop and all parties will see where it leads.
Gatt notes that Mielekamp spoke in front of a media board (nothing unusual about that in this day and age) - but with more logos on it than ever before. Mielekamp says his phone is running hot with mostly 'development' companies from the Big Smoke in Sydney, and they have also been working with Bolt's 'people'.
Mielekamp was at pains to assure media that Bolt will not receive any different treatment than any other uncontracted player, and he won't be receiving a shirt with the number 9.58 on it, as he did in a charity match to reflect his world record time in the 100 metres sprint.
One of the people most surprised by his new position is Central Coast's sporting director, Mike Phelan, who was previously an assistant to Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. He says he never dreamt he would be living in Gosford helping the world's greatest athlete to become a footballer - but that's just what he'll be doing. Phelan says he's excited about having the world's best sprinter on the Central Coast and he'll "see where it takes us".
Whether Bolt eventually stays or goes is up to one man - Mariners' new boss, Mike Mulvey. He says it is nothing unusual for a players to be asked to train with a club while he is assessed for a contract. "It just happens to be that this is Usain Bolt," Mulvey said.
Spruiking the News Corp line about Bolt, journalist Adam Santarossa says we should all be embracing Bolt coming to Gosford and potentially joining the Mariners because it's good publicity for the A-League, that it's not as if the Mariners do not also sign young local talent, and even though Melbourne Victory signed Keisuke Honda who is a genuine football star, how many people outside of football have heard of him.
Football Today understands that Usain Bolt was offered to Sydney FC before Central Coast Mariners, but coach Steve Corica declined the opportunity.
Keisuke Honda is likely to make his debut with Melbourne Victory in their FFA Cup clash v APIA Leichhardt at the end of this month. The match could well be held at Lambert Park, which is certain to get Kevin Muscat riled-up after his comments regarding Perth's Dorrien Gardens this week.
The view from Japan is that Honda will help a "flailing A-League". In Japan he is "box office" and it is likely to be exactly the same here from Japanese people living in Melbourne, as well as Honda fans who visit Australia just to see him.
Brad Smith ends his "Bournemouth nightmare" by heading to a season-long loan to the Seattle Sounders in the MLS. 24-year-old Smith's five games in two seasons with Bournemouth was the reason he was overlooked for the Socceroos World Cup squad. Smith is pictured in his Seattle gear.
Trent Sainbsury says the reason he was keen to sign a three-year deal with PSV Eindhoven is because he was keen to play under the man who was Bert van Marwijk's assistant at the World Cup, Mark van Bommel.
The good news is that Luke Brattan was declared fit and well enough to return to Melbourne yesterday after being cleared of a serious head or neck injury. He will be assessed further by Melbourne City medical staff today.
Quetion: Why wasn't there a fully equipped ambulance already available at the match between two A-League sides? In 2014, when the Northern Fury hosted a mini pre-season tournament for three A-League teams, one of the last minute demands put on the club by the FFA and Brisbane Roar was for a fully equipped ambulance including a spinal board, a defibrillator and the lot. Because Townsville is city of 200,000 people - one-tenth the size of Brisbane - and there are limited ambulances available at short notice, one had to be brought in at great cost to the host club for the three match-days from Innisfail. So why didn't FFA as the event organisers of this FFA Cup match have the same facilities available?
Optus and Football
Optus' chief executive, Allen Lew, said the failure on "one specific weekend" of the World Cup was not because Optus underestimated demand, as they had rigorously tested it, but a failure in the system due to a compatibility issue. He says that once this was rectified, the platform performed well, that handing back games to SBS was an issue of public trust, rather than lack of confidence in the platform, and that Optus would continue to invest in football broadcasting, but not other sport.
usain bolt, keisuke honda, brad smith, trent sainsbury, luke brattan, optus, a-league