In order for both Manchester City and Girona to compete in next season’s UEFA Champions League, City Football Group must make hard decisions. UEFA has strict rules regarding multi-club ownership and how much one ownership group can own of two teams. Currently, City Football Group owns 100% of Manchester City and 47% of Spanish side Girona. Both have earned qualification into the 2024/25 UEFA Champions League based on league placement.

Article Five of the UEFA Champions League Regulations states “no individual or legal entity may have control or influence over more than one club participating in a UEFA club competition.” That comes down to a controlling stake in multiple clubs. City Football Group’s 47% ownership of Girona is the most of its array of investors and owners. Consequently, Girona and Manchester City violate Article Five of the UEFA Champions rulebook.

There are ways around this for City Football Group. UEFA has reached out to the ownership group to provide outlets to allow both Girona and Manchester City to participate in next season’s competition. City Football Group has two options. On one hand, CFG can sell 17% of its shares to an independent third party. It must reduce its ownership in Girona to below 30%. The other option for City Football Group is to transfer all shares of one club to a blind trust overseen by a panel appointed by UEFA. City Football Group has the power to select that trustee.

A similar situation happened last year with AC Milan. Red Bird Capital needed to prove that Milan and French club Toulouse were run independently to ensure they could both play in Europe in 2023/24.

Girona and Manchester City have several close ties ahead of Champions League

It will be harder for Manchester City and Girona to prove how independent they are from one another ahead of next season’s UEFA Champions League. City Football Group has used Girona as a means to help develop several players. Among the standouts in that regard is winger Savio. On loan from Troyes, another CFG club, Savio is being mentioned as a player who could join City’s ranks. More overtly, two players joined Girona ahead of the season from Manchester City. Yangel Herrera joined on a permanent deal in a move worth around $5 million. Then, 21-year-old right back Yan Couto is currently on loan from City.

As is the case with multi-club ownership, there is often one top club that each of the other clubs feeds into. For City Football Group, that is Manchester City. City Football Group is not going to change its ownership model regarding the top club. That leaves Girona open for change.

If City does not change its ownership structure with Girona, one of the two clubs will fall into the Europa League. If Manchester City wins the Premier League, that will be Girona. However, if both clubs finish second, a spot neither occupies currently, Manchester City will play in the Europa League. Spain has a higher coefficient in UEFA’s rankings. Therefore, if they match one another’s domestic finish, Girona effectively holds the tiebreaker.

Before then, though, expect City Football Group to do everything in its power to ensure both clubs have a spot in next season’s UEFA Champions League.