BARCELONA: Spanish champions Barcelona, their spending style already questioned over Neymar, have been handed a 14-month transfer ban by FIFA writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The Catalan club cannot buy players until the summer of 2015 after being judge guilty of breaking rules on signing international players under 18. Barcelona, who have also been fined £305,000, have indicated an intention to appeal.

Barcelona, who will still be allowed to sell players, need access to the summer window to sign high-quality replacements for departing defender Carles Pujol and injured goalkeeper Victor Valdes.

The four-time European champions have been linked  with Borussia Monchengladbach keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen and have already agreed a deal to sign 17-year-old Croatia midfielder Alen Halilovic.

A club stateement said: “FCB will present the corresponding appeal to FIFA and, if necessary, will submit the resulting resolution to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.”

Federation fined

Whatever the outcome the decision itself means that player targets and their agents will be wary about considering a move to Nou Camp.

The Spanish federation was also found guilty of, in effect, being complicit with Barcelona’s ryoe-bending, It has been fined £340,000 by FIFA and told to “regularise its regulatory framework and existing system concerning the international transfer of minors in football” within a year.

FIFA rules state  that international transfers are permitted ONLY for players over the age of 18  unless the player in question meets one of three qualifying criteria.

Under-18s can move to a club in a different country if their parents move there for non-footballing reasons, if they are from another nation within the European Union or European Economic Area and aged between 16 and 18, or if they live within 100km of the club.

A FIFA investigation – centred on several players aged under 18 who were registered and played for the club between 2009 and 2013 – found that Barcelona and the RFEF were guilty of a “serious” infringement of the rules in relation to 10 players.

The Catalan club is still under criminal investigation over the ‘hidden’ terms of Neymar’s transfer from Brazilian club Santos last year. The row prompted the resignation of Sandro Rosell as club president.

It will be hard for successor – and former vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu – to resist pressure for early elections after the latest revelations.