- The Washington Times - Friday, August 2, 2002

"Gazzamania" won't be coming to the District after all. D.C. United ended its pursuit of legendary English midfielder Paul Gascoigne yesterday by terminating negotiations.
Gascoigne, 35, trained with United last Friday and Monday and sat in the president's box during Saturday's 1-0 loss to the New England Revolution.
According to United coach Ray Hudson, there were a combination of reasons why United broke off talks.
"I didn't think in the end it was worth it for us," Hudson said. "It was not quite the right fit with our time schedule [eight games remaining], the club's situation [6-11-3] and if he could help us right now."
Money was definitely a factor. United reportedly was willing to pay Gascoigne $7,500 per week for the remainder of this season and the league maximum of $260,000 next season. United is straining under the league's stringent $1.7million salary cap. Bringing on Gascoigne, would have forced United to trade one of its established stars to free up money for the controversial Englishman.
"The financial ramifications of bringing him on next year meant he would be a high-ticket item," Hudson said. "I can't specify one reason and say that's it."
United's inability to score goals also played a role in this decision. The team is currently in a club-record 431-minute scoreless streak. United has been shut out in its last four games and didn't want to burden Gascoigne, arguably one of the greatest attacking midfielders of the past 20 years, with the club's goal-scoring incompetence.
"He would be coming in under huge expectations, huge pressure," Hudson said. "It would be like leading the Huns over the Alps."
Hudson did say that Gascoigne's off-field reputation as a partier and heavy drinker was not a factor in the decision to end talks. Gascoigne has been front-page fodder for England's tabloids with some highly publicized exploits over the years.
Gascoigne has other offers from clubs around the world, including Turkey, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, China and New Zealand. Hudson said Gascoigne's first choice was to play in the United States. There is also the lucrative exhibition circuit, where Gascoigne could make six figures touring the globe playing in meaningless matches.
A couple years ago, Hudson tried to lure Gascoigne to Major League Soccer when he was the coach of the defunct Miami Fusion. Hudson and Gascoigne both grew up in Newcastle, England, a working-class city in the country's northeast.
Given Gascoigne's age, it appears unlikely that United will pursue him in the future.
"Part of the purpose was to get him out here and take a close look," Hudson said. "We liked much of what we saw."
To his credit, Gascoigne, who has played for such storied clubs as Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, Lazio (Italy), Glasgow Rangers (Scotland), Middlesbrough and Everton, arrived in Washington in excellent shape. Gascoigne spent 12 weeks working out in Cyprus and it showed.
With this deal falling apart, United won't reap the rewards and garner the publicity associated with having Gascoigne in uniform. On his first day training with United, seven television crews and about 25 reporters showed up to chronicle his first day working out with the club.
"He's really a superstar," Hudson said. "He was very disappointed that this didn't work out."

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