CFG told to reduce shareholding in Man City or Girona to clear both teams for UCL

May 15 – Manchester City and their sister club Girona will not both be able to compete in next season’s Champions League unless the Abu Dhabi owners reduce their shareholding in one or other of the two, UEFA has ruled.

The City Football Group (CFG) owns 100 per cent of Manchester City and 47% of La Liga side Girona. Both have qualified for the Champions League but to compete in it next season the CFG will have to reduce its stake in one — and Girona is the obvious choice — to less than 30%.

Girona have had an unexpectedly stunning season and are guaranteed to finish in the top four in Spain and therefore qualify for Europe’s top club competition.

However, UEFA’s Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) is reported to have sent a letter to football stakeholders informing them of updates to multi-club rules pertaining to entry into continental-wide competitions.

The rules prevent two teams participating in the same European tournament if they have the same owner and UEFA said that this extends to cases of “decisive influence” being held by a party over several clubs, going beyond just “control” linked to holding majority shares.

City Group is not the majority shareholder of Girona, but the CFCB letter said that if a party “holds 30% or more of the club’s total shares, the shareholders’ or members’ voting or economic rights”, this constitutes “the capacity to exercise a decisive influence in the decision-making of a club”.

Other examples cited include representing at least 30% of operating income – such as through a sponsorship contract – holding key positions in the club’s structure or having transferred at least three players in the same season.

CFG could solve the problem by selling shares to an independent third party that reduces one ownership stake to below 30%, or transfer all shares in one club to a blind trust overseen by a panel appointed by UEFA.

The multi-club ownership issue for UEFA and CFG has loomed ever since it became clear Girona was competing for a Champions League slot.  If City and Girona are both to compete in the tournament next season, City Group will therefore have to act by UEFA’s June 3 deadline.

City Group has full ownership of or stakes in 13 clubs across the globe and failure to comply with UEFA’s latest ruling would almost certainly see Girona demoted to the second-tier Europa League since the team finishing higher in their domestic league takes priority.

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