UEFA, European soccer’s governing body, has cleared the way for Manchester City and Manchester United to compete in its club competitions next season after the English Premier League giants made necessary changes to their multi-club relationships with Spain’s Girona and France’s Nice, respectively.

The First Chamber of the UEFA Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) had previously opened proceedings against the four clubs due to a potential conflict with the multi-club ownership rule provided for in Article 5 of its UEFA club competitions regulations.

Manchester City and Girona, both under the wing of City Football Group (CFG), are due to compete in the elite UEFA Champions League in the 2024-25 season, while Manchester United and Nice, owned either partially or fully by Ineos, will be in the secondary Europa League.

UEFA has confirmed all four clubs will participate in the club competitions “following the implementation of significant changes by the concerned investors” and stated that they “were able to demonstrate that such changes brought them into compliance with the multi-club ownership rule.”

The changes made by the owners of the respective clubs mean no one is simultaneously involved, directly or indirectly, in any capacity whatsoever in the management, administration and/or sporting performance of more than one club participating in a UEFA club competition, and no one has control or decisive influence over more than one club participating in a UEFA club competition.

In a statement, UEFA added: “More specifically, the significant changes made to the ownership, governance, and financial support of the concerned clubs, substantially restrict the investors’ influence and decision-making power over more than one club, ensuring compliance with the multi-club ownership rule during the 2024-25 season.

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“In particular, the concerned investors have transferred their shares in Girona FC and OGC Nice to independent trustees through a blind trust structure established under the supervision of the CFCB First Chamber.

“Such blind trust was accepted by the CFCB First Chamber on an exceptional basis for the 2024-25 UEFA competitions. The trustees will regularly exchange information with the CFCB First Chamber during the 2024-25 season.”

The measures introduced by UEFA for the upcoming season mean the effective control and decision-making of Girona and Nice rest solely under the trustee's control. Following the resignation of its board members, the investor is no longer represented on the board of directors and cannot directly appoint new directors to the board, with only the trustee able to do this.

In addition, the investors have no ability to influence sporting related decisions nor influence the club through veto rights or contractual arrangements entered into with other shareholders, while the investors are restricted in their ability to provide subsequent financing, and the club’s financial statements will be deconsolidated from the investors’ holding company.

Last year, US investment firm RedBird Capital Partners, which owns Italian giants AC Milan and French club Toulouse handed control of its shares in the latter to an independent holding company overseen by a UEFA-appointed panel to avoid a penalty as the teams qualified for the Champions League and Europa League respectively.

As additional evidence of their independence, the CFG and Ineos-owned clubs committed to not transferring players to each other, whether permanently or on loan, directly or indirectly, from July 2024 until September 2025, with the exception of pre-existing transfer agreements that had been entered into before the opening of the CFCB proceedings.

The clubs will also not conclude any cooperation, joint technical or commercial agreements between each other, and will not use any joint scouting or player database.

From July 1, 2025, the shares in Girona and Nice will be transferred back to their respective investor.

UEFA stated: “As a result, in the absence of any major modifications to the clubs’ shareholding, governance or financing, the above-mentioned clubs shall be considered, as from that date, under the control or decisive influence of their investor.

“The CFCB First Chamber will continue to monitor the above-mentioned situations to ensure that the multi-club ownership rule continues to be complied with during the 2024-25 season.”

CFG owns 100% of Premier League champions Manchester City and 47% of Girona, who finished third in Spain’s top-tier LaLiga to qualify for the Champions League for the first time.

Girona’s board president Pere Guardiola is the brother of Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and several players who played a role in the club’s unforeseen success last season have come from other CFG clubs. This strategy allows CFG clubs to circumvent stringent financial fair play regulations by transferring players between themselves.

CFG is majority-owned by Abu Dhabi United Group, a private equity firm headed up by the country’s vice president and deputy prime minister Sheikh Mansour and holds majority or minority stakes in 13 soccer clubs globally.

Meanwhile, British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe officially purchased a minority stake in Manchester United earlier this year.

As a result of that deal, the sporting wing of Ineos, Ratcliffe’s petrochemicals business, has stepped back from management of Nice, which it purchased in 2019.