Thursday December 22 2016
Ban lifted, Madrid lifted

Luke Taylor looks at the implications of the decision to reduce Real Madrid’s transfer ban in time for the summer transfer window.

Real Madrid’s transfer embargo for registering players during the next two transfer windows has been partially lifted, with the club now able to be active in the market this coming summer after successfully winning an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

They were initially punished, along with city rivals Atletico Madrid, for breaking FIFA regulations on signing youth-team players, but there has been no news on the result of Atleti’s appeal, which means that their ban is still in place. In this sense, it looks as though Los Blancos may have dodged a bullet, and might fancy pushing their luck with a wager on, while Los Rojiblancos remain banned. Regardless, Madrid still seemed to be a little displeased by the outcome.

A club statement read: “The decision highlights the injustice of the original ban imposed by FIFA, although the club regret that CAS lacked the courage to revoke the ruling entirely.”

This highlights how adamant Madrid are of their complete innocence, and whether the ban only being partially lifted means that they have still broken the rules or whether CAS are in fact lacking in some mettle remains to be seen.

On the other hand, Atleti are bound to feel hard done to if their ban remains in place, prohibiting them from improving their squad while their neighbours can do exactly that. Barcelona might feel the same, considering they endured a similar embargo and were unsuccessful in their appeal, but ultimately, there are differences in each case and if CAS feels Madrid’s dealings were not as severe and that they should therefore not be dealt as harsh a punishment, that is their prerogative.

Barca President Josep Maria Bartomeu did raise a very pertinent point regarding the decision, though.

“This legal uncertainty must stop, and I doubt that all of the players’ agents were wrong at the same time,” he said, according to the Independent. “The players are the ones suffering because the rules aren't clear. This is what happens when there are different criteria used to judge each act.”

In purely footballing terms, Los Merengues will be delighted with this outcome. It was highly unlikely that they were going to make any signings in January anyway, at least not any significant ones, but the summer is another question entirely as Florentino Perez may look to another big signing to assert his position as President. There have already been reports since the ban was lifted of a move for Juventus forward Paulo Dybala, and there will probably be a different name every day from now until a signing is made in the summer.

It must also be noted that since they will be free to bring players in, Madrid will be less reluctant to let players go. Therefore, it is likely that James Rodriguez will depart, given how far he is down the pecking order.

There could still be an alleviation on Atleti’s penalty as well, but as things stand it looks as though Los Blancos have been lucky with CAS’ ruling. At least the summer transfer window has been made a little more interesting.

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