Central Coast Mariners CEO Shaun Mielekamp insist he has no regrets over the doomed Usain Bolt trial – but admits he's disappointed it's ended the way it has.
Bolt has now officially quit the club after talks broke down on a pay deal for the world record holder sprint superstar to join the club permanently.
He started training with the club in pre-season in the hope of earning his first full-time pro contract at the age of 32 but struggled with fitness and a gap in skills.
After a couple of months of intensive coaching though, he managed to step up enough to play in a scratch match against an amateur side plucked from clubs in south-west Sydney, and scored twice.
The lack of natural skill was still obvious though. Perth Glory striker Andy Keogh said Bolt had the "touch of a trampoline."
But the Jamaican still believed he could rise to the challenge and opened negotiations on a paid contract to keep him at the Mariners.
The gap in his expectations and what the Mariners could afford was huge though and Bolt eventually stopped training while talks continued over the past fortnight.
Today though, the talking stopped for good and the Mariners admitted defeat in their battle to hold onto the star.
"There is an air of regret that that this huge opportunity was unable to be maximized," Mielekamp admitted today. "There's no doubt that we all wanted this to work.
"But on the on the other side, this was this was a great ride."
Pay talks with Bolt's agents began in earnest the week before the game in Campbelltown where Bolt would score twice, he revealed.
"For that week, we really wanted to make sure that there was no distractions," he said. "We were putting together the contract offer which shows how serious the club has been in keeping Usain.
"We worked hard and we realised that there was a gap that we needed to try to fill – and in the time from then till now, we haven't been able to close that gap."
The club asked the FFA to chip into the deal with a contribution from the marquee fund but were refused, although the FFA did offer a small amount to be used to market Bolt and the A-League.
"Of course, every club wants more support from the FFA," admitted Mielekamp. "But that would go for anything, whether it's Usain Bolt or any other aspect.
"But there are limits to everyone's capacity. We understand that but we're also looking forward to a new future as clubs in regards to the FFA. It is what it is."
Bolt was offered a deal in Malta while negotiations were ongoing which he turned down, but the Mariners said they had no idea what Bolt will do now.
Mielekamp added: "I don't know what he does next to be honest. I'll leave that for for him to comment on.
"I don't believe that there was anything further from the Maltese deal from when it happened before."
Despite the disappointment in not signing him, Mielekamp is convinced the deal has helped the Mariners and put the club on the radar of any other stars looking to come to Australia.
"The main increase for us has been in the exposure," he said. "I think the last numbers I saw were that his story reached over 600 million people around the world which is just fantastic.
"As a club we've grown – there's no doubt. We've got more sponsors and more attention, more expertise that has come through. We've been able to grow.
"There's been some real benefit through this period, because a lot of that would not have happened if Usain Bolt didn't didn't come to this club."
He added: "One thing I'm really proud of and confident in is that Central Coast Mariners have shown that we can handle the marketplace.
"I believe we've shown the the A-League and the Australian media and the Australian public that if there was another big name that came to the table, Central Coast Mariners' brand is one that should be considered.
"Who knows? There are opportunities for all clubs in January and we'll be considering our options when that comes around."