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What Price Pablo?
August 2nd, 2006 6:06PM



Colorado midfielder Pablo Mastroeni may have to wait until mid-September to find out if Italian Serie B club Brescia is his next destination.

MLS officials have refused Brescia's initial offer of a loan deal and no movement is likely until after the start of the Italian season, which has been pushed back two weeks in the aftermath of a corruption scandal involving Serie A clubs Juventus, AC Milan, Lazio and Fiorentina.

Serie A kicks off Sept. 10, a day after Brescia opens its Serie B campaign. Unless an exemption or extension is granted to Italian clubs by UEFA, the close of the European transfer window Sept. 1 will probably preclude any immediate move for Mastreoni, who is under contract to MLS until 2008, assuming the league elects to exercise the two option years of his deal.

Through director of communications Will Kuhns, MLS vice president Todd Durbin said he had no comment on the Mastroeni situation.

Brokering the negotiations is Peter Smith, a former adidas representative who now runs his own sports marketing company. Smith says the sporting director of Brescia, Gianluca Nani, is willing to come to the United States to discuss a deal for Mastroeni, but not until mid-September.

Mastroeni suffered an MCL strain his right knee last week playing for Colorado against Houston and will sit out the MLS All-Star Game. He has played nine years in MLS and turns 30 this month.

TV TALKS. A much-anticipated announcement regarding a long-term TV deal between MLS and ESPN that will pay the league an annual rights fee reported as between $7 million and $8 million is in limbo.

An announcement had been expected Friday when Commissioner Don Garber gives a state-of-the-league address at an All-Star Game press luncheon.

Fox Soccer Channel announced earlier this week it had reached a deal with Soccer United Marketing to televise MLS games, international games, and certain U.S. Soccer events through 2010. Sports Business Daily reported the deal is worth $11 million; Broadcasting and Cable Magazine gave the figure as $20 million.

Several sources confirmed months ago that a deal between MLS and HdNet involves the first rights fee paid by a network to the league (pending official announcement of the ESPN deal). HdNet is reportedly paying between $2 million and $3 million per year for MLS games and other matches like this Sunday's Barcelona-CD Guadalajara exhibition in Los Angeles, which will also air on FSC and Fox Sports en Espanol.

Some HdNet MLS games are carried exclusively by the network, others also air on regional carriers and the DirectKick package.

MLS/SUM is finalizing details of a Spanish-language package of games with Univision that will include league games, the Interliga tournament, and a proposed CONCACAF Champions League tournament to be implemented in late summer of next year.

DEMPSEY DENIED. According to sources, an offer of $2 million from English Premier League club Charlton for New England's Clint Dempsey has been turned down by MLS. Rival club West Ham United, which paid Manchester United 500,000 pounds ($938,000) for American defender Jonathan Spector in June, was also interested but apparently has yet to tender an offer.

GOOCH IS A GO. Premier League club Fulham, which already employs U.S. defender Carlos Bocanegra and former U.S. striker Brian McBride, is ready to pay Belgian club Standard Liege a nice transfer fee for Oguchi Onyewu.

The price was reported by an independent source as $4 million; outlets in England cited figures as high as 2.5 million pounds ($4.7 million).

Middlesbrough had expressed interest in the defender prior to the World Cup but those talks broke down, supposedly because former England defender Gareth Southgate, hired to replace Steve McLaren after McLaren took the job as England manager, wasn't high on Onyewu. Fulham manager Chris Coleman is re-shaping his back line and earlier this week his club acquired left back Frank Queudrue from Boro.

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