The long-awaited deal that adds newly promoted La Liga club Girona to City Football Group’s growing roster of world soccer teams appears to be all but completed. When it’s final, Girona will join MLS’s NYCFC and Manchester City, as well as clubs in Australia, Japan, and Uruguay in CFG’s portfolio.
Presumably, this acquisition is a huge, potentially transformative moment for Girona, a club that, despite starting play in 1933, just competed in its first-ever La Liga match and now stands to gain from the seemingly unlimited resources possessed by City’s deep-pocketed investors. Girona already have five Citizens out on loan with them, and a 2-2 opening draw with Atlético Madrid sets a strong tone for their inaugural season.
Any improvement, however, will be watched with a wary eye by Man City and its supporters, because UEFA rules mean that these two clubs won’t be able to enjoy the highest levels of success at the same time. Despite its potential, Girona will likely never even have a chance to surpass City as CFG’s top team.
Two clubs with shared ownership aren’t able to compete in European competitions simultaneously—it’s an obvious conflict of interest. This means that, should both City and Girona finish well enough to get into either the Champions League or the Europa League, only one club actually gets to accept that invitation. Per UEFA rules, the team in the lower competition (Europa) gets knocked out, or, if both clubs are in the same tournament, whichever club finished higher in its league will stay. (A tie in that last area gets settled by the UEFA Club Coefficient.) Manchester City, as a practical lock to always finish above Girona, will be the undisputed big brother in their relationship, potentially knocking out the Spanish side from ever competing in Europe.
Girona’s not a threat yet, and as long as City remain the crown jewels in the portfolio, they’ll be a AAA team for their brothers up in Manchester, developing young players and sending them to the Premier League when the prospects become great. The new bosses no doubt raise Girona’s ceiling a great deal and set them up for unprecedented success, but that ceiling will stay fixed in the mid-tier of La Liga.