Spanish federation axes signings outside transfer windows

MADRID (Reuters) - The much-maligned rule which allowed Barcelona to sign Martin Braithwaite outside of a transfer window last February has been removed by the Spanish football federation, bringing Spain into line with all other European nations.

The rule, article 124.3 in the federation’s regulations, allowed clubs to sign a player from another team after the window had shut if a player in their squad in the same position had been declared injured for a minimum of five months.

But the rule was removed from the new set of statutes published by the federation on Tuesday, and now only players who are out of contract or unemployed may join clubs outside of a transfer window.

The rule, which only existed in Spain, came under global scrutiny when Barcelona signed Denmark striker Braithwaite from fellow La Liga side Leganes in February, after Ousmane Dembele was ruled out for six months due to rupturing his hamstring.

Leganes, who vented their anger at the continued existence of the rule, were helpless to prevent the transfer after Barca triggered Braithwaite’s release clause of 18 million euros ($21.08 million) and were unable to sign a replacement forward.

The Madrid side were eventually relegated from La Liga on the final day of the season.

Braithwaite’s signing led to condemnation from FIFA while federation president Luis Rubiales conceded at the time that the rule was unfair and pledged to end it.

Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Christian Radnedge