Girona await clearance to play in UCL due to Man City – sources

Girona face a wait for UEFA clearance to play in next season’s Champions League due to partner club Manchester City also securing a place in the 2024-25 competition, sources have told ESPN.

LaLiga team Girona have qualified for the Champions League for the first time in the club’s 94-year history, with Saturday’s 4-2 win against Barcelona moving the side into second spot and guaranteeing a top four finish this season.

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But with Girona one of 13 teams within the City Football Group (CFG), their qualification alongside Premier League side City has raised a potential conflict with the multi-club ownership rule within Article 5 of the UEFA club competitions regulations.

CFG own 47% of Girona, with another 35% owned by Marcelo Claure, the Bolivian-American entrepreneur who is president of Club Bolivar, another CFG team. Pere Guardiola, the brother of City manager Pep, is the chairman of Girona.

According to UEFA competition rules, should two clubs from the same ownership group qualify for the same UEFA competition, the side which finishes highest in its domestic championship gets the place. If the two teams finish in the same position, the one with the highest club coefficient (City in this case) would be awarded qualification.

With 2023 Champions League winners City needing just two points to secure runners-up spot in the Premier League — City will win the title for the fourth successive season if they win all three of their remaining fixtures — the English team will take the CFG spot in the Champions League ahead of Girona by virtue of the factors outlined above.

But while sources have said that Girona are unlikely to be demoted to the Europa League to avoid a clash with City, the Spanish club will have to outline its position and organisational independence from Manchester City at a UEFA Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) this summer before being cleared to play in the Champions League.

RB Leipzig and FC Salzburg, both owned by the Red Bull Group, have been cleared to play together in the Champions League in recent seasons, while last July, UEFA accepted the admission of several clubs into its competitions despite concerns over potential shared ownership issues.

Aston Villa and Vitoria, Brighton and Union Saint-Gilloise and AC Milan and Toulouse were all cleared to participate in UEFA competitions following a CFCB hearing.

Manchester United and Nice will also face a CFCB hearing if the two clubs, who are both either owned or partially-controlled by Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s INEOS Group, qualify for European competition.

Nice occupy a Europa League spot in fifth position in Ligue 1, while United are outside the European spots in the Premier League but could yet qualify for Europe through the league or by beating Manchester City in the FA Cup Final on May 25.