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Ownership issues could see Manchester clubs use blind trusts

Manchester City and Girona could face each other in next season's Champions League if City Football Group shares in the Spanish club are placed in a blind trust.

CFG holds a 47% stake in Girona as well as a majority stake in Manchester City.

That would have meant a conflict with UEFA’s rules on multi-club ownership, where a shareholding of 30% or more is deemed to be a decisive influence, and resulted in whichever team finishes lower in their domestic league being 'relegated' to the Europa League.

However, one option open to City and Girona – plus Manchester United and Nice if they both qualify for the Europa League – is to assign or transfer shares to an independent third party or blind trust.

This option will only be open to clubs on an exceptional basis in the 2024-25 season, thereafter UEFA’s Club Financial Control Body must be satisfied that a party does not have a decisive influence at more than one club in the same UEFA competition.

If CFG took up this option, there would be no barrier to City and Girona meeting in the Champions League group phase.

UEFA sources have highlighted that for the current season an independent trustee was chosen by American investment firm Redbird to oversee its stake in Toulouse, which allowed both the French club and Italian side AC Milan to compete in Europe. It is understood the CFCB was satisfied there has been no interference between the clubs during this season.

The first chamber of the CFCB wrote to clubs and leagues around Europe on Tuesday to make them aware of the blind trust option, but it is understood the clubs known to be impacted by the MCO rules were already aware.

Clubs must demonstrate compliance with the MCO rules, which were approved by UEFA’s executive committee on 20