Can Guardiola own a football club?

So can Guardiola own a football club, not Pep! He clearly can not…….

The news that Pere Guardiola (brother of the Manchester City manager) has acquired a significant stake in Spanish top flight club Girona has caused controversy because of the strong links to Manchester City and the objections (legal or otherwise) that many have to the concept of dual ownership.

The fact that his brother is the manager of Manchester City, who have also acquired a significant stake in Girona, only compounds that controversy.

However, this article considers a separate point:  under UK law, can a football agent own or have an interest in a football club?

The relevant provision is Regulation E4 of the FA Regulations on Working With Intermediaries (2016-2017) which states that:

“An Intermediary, any individual or legal person with an interest in an Intermediary’s Organisation or an Intermediary’s Organisation shall not have an interest in a Club. Similarly, a Player, Club, Club Official, Manager or any individual or entity with an interest in a Club shall not have any interest in the business or affairs of an Intermediary or an Intermediary’s Organisation.”

An “interest” is defined in detail by the Regulations, but in simple terms any shareholding or beneficial interest of more than 5% is not permitted,  nor is any arrangement whereby the agent has the ability to exercise material, financial, commercial, administrative, managerial or any other influence over the affairs of the Club whether directly or indirectly and whether formally or informally.

Crucially, a “club” is not just a club within the UK –  it is defined as a “football club that plays the game of football in any country in a competition sanctioned and recognised..”

So, what does this mean for Mr Pere Guardiola?

As at 21st August 2017, when the FA published its most recent list of FA Registered Intermerdiaries, Pere Guardiola was shown as being intermediary number 001350. That would place him on the face of it in clear breach of rule E4 as, on his own case, his company (the Girona Football Group) has acquired a 44.3 per cent shareholding.  In addition, it seems impossible to contend that he will not have the ability to exert real influence over Girona.

Now, of course, it could be that Guardiola has decided to cease his activities as an intermediary and has informed the FA accordingly – and until their next list is published we can not be sure of that.

If that be so, some rather good players might be seeking a new agent – the likes of Luis Suarez amongst them. William Carvalho is listed on Guardiola’s website as one of his clients, which is particularly interesting as he is hotly tipped to join West Ham before this summer transfer window is out…….

Will that deal now happen or not?  Is Suarez on the look out for a new agent?  Has Pere Guardiola, in fact, ceased agency activities or is he going to contend that he is not in breach of Rule E4 – perhaps on a jurisdictional basis?   Place your bets……


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