With the start of the Major League Soccer season less than two weeks away, many Canadian fans have likely signed up for MLS MatchDay Live, a web-streaming service that permits viewers to watch games online at a cost of around $40 for the season.
But as of Sunday morning, fans in Canada -- even those who had already signed up for the service, credit card details and all -- were greeted with the following message on the MatchDay Live page: "You are accessing this page from a restricted territory. MLS MatchDay Live is not available outside of the United States."
This, despite the fact that fans in Canada had been permitted to register for the service as recently as two days ago -- and despite the fact that MLSsoccer.com itself unequivocally states: "MLS MATCHDAY LIVE is available in the United States and Canada."
So, what happened?
Two league sources told Canadian Soccer News via email that MLS is still working out the details of its Canadian MatchDay Live package for the 2011 season, in the wake of the league's new television deal in this country. The sources requested anonymity because the arrangement has not yet been finalized.
(Updated 7 p.m. ET Sunday) Last month, TSN signed a six-year deal to be the official broadcaster of MLS in Canada. Canadian Soccer News contacted sources at TSN who confirmed that a deal with the league is currently being negotiated, but also requested anonymity prior to the details being finalized. One possibility that was suggested was TSN operating a service similar to MatchDay Live on its own website.
Another source, a person familiar with MLS broadcasting rights, suggested that the issue of online highlights has been a sticking point between the league and TSN. The person requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
No matter the issues at play, Canadian fans will surely hope for some clarity sooner rather than later, as we count down the days to First Kick between Vancouver and Toronto.
Canadian Soccer News will keep you updated as more information becomes available.
With files from Ben Rycroft and Duane Rollins