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With less than a month to go before the Chargers can begin negotiating with outside suitors, the team announced Wednesday it would “politely decline” any overtures made by parties outside San Diego County come Jan. 1.

“When cities from outside the County contact the team after January 1, 2007, we will listen to what they have to say, explain our situation, tell them that we are still working hard to find a solution in San Diego County, and politely decline further discussions for the time being,” said team special counsel Mark Fabiani in a statement.

The team has been seeking a new football stadium for four years and, for the first time in its push, it can legally begin speaking with parties from outside San Diego County on Jan. 1, according to the terms of its contract.

The announcement signals that the team is sufficiently optimistic about the chances of getting a deal done in the county. The team abandoned a proposal with the city of San Diego in January and the city allowed the team to begin talking with cities outside of the county in May.

Since then, National City and Chula Vista have emerged as suitors.

“As the New Year approaches, the Chargers are committed to continuing exploration of possible sites in Chula Vista, National City and perhaps elsewhere in San Diego County,” Fabiani said in the statement.

Check back later for a full story.

ANDREW DONOHUE

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