15 May, 2024 @ 13:23
1 min read

Girona could be kicked out of the Champions League despite record-breaking season: UEFA warns Manchester City owners must reduce their stake in Spanish club

Manchester City and Girona have the same owners
May 4, 2024, Girona, Catalonia, Spain: 4th May 2024; Estadi Montilivi, Girona, Spain, Spanish La Liga Football, Girona versus Barcelona; Portu Girona Fc celebrates after scoring for 2-2 in the 65th minute (Credit Image: © Joma Garcia/Action Plus Sports via ZUMA Press Wire)

SPANISH football club Girona could be kicked out of next season’s UEFA Champions League thanks to their relationship with reigning champions Manchester City.

The City Football Group (CFG), which owns 100% of current Premier League and Champions League title holders Manchester City, owns 47% of La Liga side Girona, but UEFA regulations stipulate that two clubs with the same owners cannot compete in the same competition.

Girona, who qualified for the Champions League for the first time ever this season by guaranteeing a finish in the top 4 of La Liga, could instead be forced to play in the Europa League, a less prestigious European competition, unless the CFG reduces their ownership stake in the Catalan club to less than 30%. 

An alternative option would be for the CFG to transfer all shares in one club to a blind trust overseen by a panel appointed by UEFA, Europe’s football governing body – this model was used this season in a deal for AC Milan, Toulouse and their American investor RedBird capital.

READ MORE: WATCH: British football star Jude Bellingham shows off his Spanish skills in a post-victory speech alongside his Real Madrid teammates

Manchester City’s owners, City Football Group (CFG), own a 47% stake in Girona. Credit: Cordon Press

Girona have risen from the relegation zone of Spain’s second division to La Liga’s Champions League spots in just two-and-a-half years, breaking the traditional Spanish football hierarchy largely thanks to their association with CFG, which owns stakes in 13 football clubs worldwide.

The club have been aided by three players who belong to other clubs within the CFG ownership umbrella: Yan Couto, on loan from Manchester City, Yangel Herrera, signed from City last July, and star winger Savio, on loan from the French club Troyes who are destined for a second successive relegation.

UEFA have been seeking to adapt their ownership rules as the multi-club model becomes more and more popular.

This season alone, Brighton and Hove Albion, Aston Villa and AC Milan were required to show UEFA their relationships with their sister clubs – Belgium’s Union Saint-Gilloise, Portugal’s Vitoria and France’s Toulouse. 

A UEFA document shared with clubs states: “The development of new forms of co-operation and influence between clubs and third parties suggests a broad interpretation of the concept; indeed, even if a club, individual or legal entity does not have de jure decisive influence over a club, it may still be able to exercise de facto decisive influence over such a club”. 

Ben Pawlowski

Ben joined the Olive Press in January 2024 after a four-month stint teaching English in Paraguay. He loves the adrenaline rush of a breaking news story and the tireless work required to uncover an eye-opening exclusive. He is currently based in Barcelona from where he covers the city, the wider Catalunya region, and the north of Spain. Send tips to [email protected]

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