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July 31, 2012 at 2:23 PM

GM Adrian Hanauer on DPs, Mario Martinez, future moves, and why Seattle couldn’t loan out Fernandez to make room for Tiffert

hanauer mug.jpgReporters got a chance to catch up with Sounders FC part owner and general manager Adrian Hanauer after Tuesday’s practice. He chatted about a number of subjects, including the future of the DP rule, and gave an update on Mario Martinez, but he mostly spent time on covering why Seattle couldn’t loan out Alvaro Fernandez (reports are Colombia’s Deportivo Cali was a possible destination) in order to make room for new DP Christan Tiffert.

* * *

(Can you explain why you couldn’t loan out or keep Fernandez and make room for Tiffert?) “We tried very hard to figure out a way to hang onto Alvaro and bring Christian in. In the end, I think it’s still early in (the evolution of the designated-player rule). There isn’t a 100-page rulebook on DPs at this point, so it’s a bit of a work in progress. I think ultimately the league’s position — again, I should probably defer to the league — but it’s my understanding that the league’s position was that if we were to loan Alvaro out for instance, outside of the league, we would effectively have four designated-players under our control if we brought another one in. In that regard, you could start stockpiling designated players, loan them out all over the world, let them improve or find the optimal time when you needed an outside midfielder back and make a transaction.

“I understand that side of things. I think there’s also something to be said for opportunities to loan some of our players out if we think they’re going to go to leagues and become better players and then come back to our league. I think that’s something we want. So that was the first thing.

“The second, sort-of-separate track that didn’t pan out was … the way many people are interpreting the transfer fees and how they relate to a player’s designated-player status is that the transfer fee is amortized over the guaranteed portion of the player’s contract. In Alvaro’s situation, he had I think it was a four-year guaranteed term, which meant that there wasn’t a way to restructure that, even renegotiating the deal to potentially categorize him as a non-DP.

“In my opinion, there’s gaming of that system that can go on. For instance, going out and paying $8 million for a transfer and signing the player to a six-month guarantee with multiple years of options. Long story short, I think we’ve got some work to do in the competition committee. No fault to the league, you just can’t account for every single iteration of the rule. We’ll probably sit down in the not-too-distant future and try to get a little more clarity on the rules.”

(Do you anticipate significant changes to the DP rule?) “I don’t know about “significant.” Again, I just think we need to wrap our arms around the rules. To your point, is a guy on IR a DP or not a DP (Ed note: The question referenced a potential scenario in Toronto regarding the DP status of the injured Danny Koevermans). I’m not sure there’s a specific rule that lays that out. But I don’t see any massive DP changes coming.”

(Were you always under the impression that you might have to lose Fernandez or are you surprised you weren’t able to keep him?) “I’d say sort of a 50-50-thing where we were trying to figure out a way to keep him. At the same time, we liked Christian a lot and wanted to try and bring him in. It just took a while to sort of muddle through the process and try to argue and persuade and convince, and ultimately it just came down to the last couple of days, and (we) decided that in order to bring Christian in, we were going to need to make that move with Alvaro.”

(Was there ever a doubt that Christian was your main target and it was just a matter of making room? Or was it a long negotiation with Tiffert?) “It wasn’t really a long negotiation with Christian. What we weren’t sure though is what was going to happen with the rest of the roster. If a different player or a different position had gone for some reason, then we needed to be careful that we prepared to solve a different problem or go out and fill a void. But in the end, Christian was the guy that we wanted and Alvaro unfortunately was the guy who we felt made the most sense to move out to make room.”

(Can you say whether you paid a transfer fee?) “Very nominal. A nominal transfer fee.”

(Is that like $100,000s?) “It’s nominal. Less than millions.”

(Can we say Deportivo Cali was the expected loan destination for Fernandez?) “I’m not going to comment. We had conversations with lots of different teams and possibilities on multiple players. It’s fluid.”

(Would you say the roster is pretty much locked in at this point?) “I would say we’re pretty locked in, but it’s pro sports, so anything can happen. We have a little bit of room, so there’s a possibility that we could still do something here in the next few weeks.”

(Any update on Mario Martinez? Some fans are wondering if the deal fell through now that we’re five days after the close of the transfer window.) “Again, I would call it dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s. There’s a somewhat complicated process of clubs coming to agreements and then the federations transferring basically the ITC. We did everything we needed to do to get the process started within the time period where FIFA closes the window. Now it’s just getting the last little pieces pulled together. Again, I’m highly confident that in the very near future we’ll have something to announce. But again, I don’t like to count the chickens before they hatch.”


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