How Girona’s success could kick Manchester City out of the Champions League
If we told you last season that a Catalan club would be at the top of La Liga at this point this season, you would certainly have guessed that it’d be Barcelona. But it is not, guys! Believe it or not, it is Girona who are currently sitting pretty at the top of the La Liga table!
At the beginning of the season, everyone said it was only a temporary thing and either Real Madrid or Barcelona would come back and take the first spot, but a third of the total games in the league have already been played, and Girona are still top!
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Will they win the league?
Maybe, maybe not. But at this point, a top 4 finish is looking very achievable. But there’s a club in England hoping that Girona doesn’t achieve that. The club? Manchester City.
Huh? What business do the European champions and treble winners have with a certain small club having a fairytale season in Spain? Well, come with us today and you’ll find out.
This is how Girona’s success could kick Manchester City out of the Champions League.
That statement alone sounds really crazy. Girona aren’t even currently in the Champions League, how could they kick City out? Well, first of all, we’re talking about the 2024-25 season. Man City are safe this season, but their involvement in the Champions League next season is really under threat, and here’s why.
So, both these clubs who are currently doing well in their respective leagues are owned by the same company – City Football Group Limited. They own 100% of Man City and 47% of Girona. They also own 100% of French club Troyes, 80% of MLS club New York City, 100% of Australian club Melbourne City, and 94.9% of Italian club Palermo, among others.
So, basically, that is a very successful holding company with its tentacles spread across different countries; super impressive for a company that was founded just 10 years ago.
But that’s really not the point right now.
Here’s the point; the fact that this club owned by the same company could make it into the Champions League next season spells trouble for the defending champions.
Because of a rule, UEFA put in place a while ago. It’s a pretty long rule, but here’s the part that applies to this case. It states that:
“No one can have control or decisive influence over more than one club in a UEFA club competition.”
So what this means is that, provided City Football Group continues to have decisive influence over Man City and Girona, both clubs cannot play in the UEFA Champions League in the same season.
Now, we know some of you are asking “What about RB Salzburg and RB Leipzig?” These two Red Bull clubs qualified for the Champions League in the 2017-18 season even though Salzburg failed to make it past the playoffs into the competition proper.
In fact, RB Leipzig and RB Salzburg even faced each other in the group stage of the Europa League in 2018. So, how come Red Bull could have two clubs in the same UEFA club competition in the same season but City Football Group can’t?
Well, actually, when Leipzig qualified for the Champions League for the first time in 2017, this was a big issue that was immediately looked into. So, the operational structures of the club were examined by UEFA in June 2017 and it was discovered that Salzburg were, to a suitable extent, independent from Red Bull.
What actually happened there?
Well, there was a restructuring at Salzburg and Red Bull ceased to have a controlling stake in the club and began to only operate as sponsors.
This right here is something City Football Group could do in order to avoid one of their clubs getting expelled from Europe’s biggest club competition. Remember that City Football Group only owns 47% of Girona, so if Girona actually qualifies for the Champions League, what they’d need to do is have the Girona board members affiliated with the City Football Group step down before applying for a European license.
Also, cooperation between the City Football Group and Girona would have to cease. They cannot have joint commercial agreements or even make use of any shared database of players or even scouts. But perhaps most significantly, Girona and the other clubs owned by the City Football Group would not be allowed to transfer players to each other – whether on loan or on a permanent basis – until September of the following year. In this case, that would be until September 2025.
But let’s say both clubs indeed qualify for the Champions League and City Football Group refuses to do all of this, what then happens?
Well, in that case, UEFA will give priority to the clubs that are champions in their league and the other will be kicked out. And this is exactly why we say Girona’s success could kick Manchester City out of the Champions League.
Girona have been top of La Liga longer than City have been top of the Premier League this season. So, if Girona indeed goes on to pull a Leicester City this season and Man City fail to win their 4th Premier League title in a row, Girona would take priority over them in the 2024-25 Champions League. Crazy, right?
But we’re pretty certain City Football Group would not just sit down and watch their most successful club get kicked out of the Champions League like that. They’ll surely do something about it.
But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves now. If we’re keeping it a buck, we can all beat our chests and say that City have, in fact, already qualified for the 2024-25 Champions League. That’s just how good and dominant Pep’s side have become.
Girona, however, still has a lot of work to do in La Liga for them to secure Champions League qualification. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Athletic Club, and Real Sociedad have more quality and experience than Girona and could still push the Catalan club out of the top 4, so let’s get to the bridge before we cross it, right?
But it is important to prepare our minds for that eventuality because it could realistically happen.
What do you guys think, though?
Will Girona actually finish in the top 4? Could they really pull off a Leicester City and win La Liga over Barcelona and Real Madrid just 2 years after returning from relegation?
Tell us what you think in the comments.