Usain Bolt will not feature at Maitland Sportsground when the Newcastle Jets take on the Central Coast Mariners in the city’s first all-A-League trial match on Saturday, August 25.
The official A-League hit-out at the $8.6 million redeveloped ground was announced on Monday but questions about Bolt were off limits.
Representatives of the world’s fastest man are in talks with the Mariners about a six-week trial and a confidentiality agreement is now in place between the parties. It meant Central Coast goalkeeper, Maitland product and former Jet Ben Kennedy was unable to answer questions about Bolt at the trial game announcement on Monday.
While Bolt is set to feature in trial matches during his potential stint, the Herald understands the 31-year-old eight-time Olympic champion is no chance of playing at Maitland.
The 100m and 200m world record holder, who retired from athletics last year, hopes to make the switch to football and has already trialled at German club Borussia Dortmund, Norwegian side Stromsgodset and South African team Mamelodi Sundowns without securing a deal.
The Mariners are believed to be in positive talks with Bolt’s management but there were reports on Sunday he was also in the sights of US second-division club Las Vegas Lights and other clubs.
Tickets to the 3pm Maitland trial will go on sale to members of both clubs this week. General public tickets will be available Monday via www.maitlandevents.com.au. Grandstand tickets are $15, general admission $10, children 5-12 years $5 and kids under five are free.
The new-look Maitland Sportsground, the traditional home of rugby league in the city, hosted more than 6,500 people for an NRL trial between Newcastle and Parramatta in February.
Kennedy lives in East Maitland and grew up in the area. He was on hand with Jets players Steve Ugarkovic and Dimi Petratos for the trial game announcement.
“It’s a nice easy home game for me,” said Kennedy, who never thought an A-League match would be played at Maitland Sportsground.
“But it’s good to bring the games out to the regional areas, and I think Maitland is an area where there’s lots of juniors. I’m sure there will be a massive crowd and everyone will get behind it.
“I grew up a Newcastle Breakers fan and I used to always travel in, and to think a Newcastle team will be playing out here is pretty special.
“I’m happy as well to be a part of it with the Mariners. I’m happy the game’s being played out here.
“Obviously Maitland play out here with the league, but seeing the facility, it’s a great facility, and the pitch is looking all right.”
The 31-year-old moved to the Mariners last season after 10 years and 114 games for the Jets.
Kennedy said the trial would be “a good test for us to see where we are at” after a raft of changes at Central Coast following last year’s wooden spoon and arrival of Mike Mulvey as coach.
“It’s been good, it’s been positive,” he said of pre-season.
“There’s quite a few new faces from last year, players and coaching staff, so obviously we are all still getting to know each other on the field but we’re working quite hard and everything’s coming together quite well.”