HOT:Man City could be banned from Champions League as nightmare scenario draws closer

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola

Manchester City could be denied Champions League football by Girona if they win La LigaMan City could be banned from Champions League as nightmare scenario draws closer

Manchester City are the reigning European champions – but they could be prevented from playing in next year’s Champions League if they fail to win the Premier League

Manchester City could be denied a spot in next year’s Champions League if Girona can cap their remarkable season by winning La Liga.

The Premier League title holders – and reigning European champions – have qualified for Europe’s premier competition for 13 successive years now and have reached the knockout phase of said tournament for the last 11 years in a row. A Champions League campaign without Manchester City has been, in the modern era at least, unthinkable.

But the club’s multi-model ownership and UEFA regulations mean that sister club Girona could prevent Pep Guardiola’s side from competing in the competition next year if they win the Spanish title and City fail to win the Premier League, as outlined by ESPN.

As things stand, City are currently five points behind Liverpool and Girona are once again top of La Liga.

City and Girona are just two of the 13 teams who make up the City Football Group, which owns clubs all across the globe. CFG currently own a 47 per cent stake in Girona.

The links between City and the Spanish outfit are particularly strong: Pere Guardiola, the brother of Pep, is the current chairman of Girona and owns a 16 per cent stake in the club.

Under current rules, should two clubs from the same ownership group qualify for the same UEFA competition, then the side who finishes highest in their domestic league gets the place.

If the two teams finish in an identical position, i.e. both in second place, then the club with the highest club coefficient ranking would qualify. In this instance, this would be Manchester City.

Girona striker Christian Portu celebrates after scoring against Celta Vigo in La Liga

Girona are back at the top of La Liga while City are currently second in the Premier League

These rules are likely to cause further issues in the red half of Manchester in the near future, with Ineos acquiring a minority stake in Manchester United. They already own French club OGC Nice who are currently second in Ligue 1 and on track to qualify for the Champions League.

It should be noted that UEFA has previously found a way past similar issues. For example, RB Leipzig and FC Salzburg are both owned by the Red Bull group but both have been able to compete in the Champions League together in recent years after Salzburg took steps to clarify a clear separation between them and Leizpig by changing personnel on their board.

Girona leapfrogged Real Madrid to return to the summit of La Liga on Sunday night courtesy of a 1-0 victory over Celta Vigo. Cristian Portu plundered the decisive goal.

Manchester City, meanwhile, will attempt to get their title bid back on track against at home against struggling Burnley. They then travel to Brentford next week.