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Brighton and Villa cleared for Europe after complying with ownership rules

Brighton and Aston Villa have been cleared by UEFA to compete in Europe in the coming season after “significant changes” were made to comply with multi-club ownership rules.

UEFA’s Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) had opened proceedings against the Seagulls and Belgian club Union St Gilloise – as well as Villa and Portuguese side Vitoria Guimaraes – due to a potential conflict with the multi-club ownership rule.

However, UEFA said the CFCB has now accepted the clubs’ admission to European competition.

It found that, as of Friday, none of the clubs, either directly or indirectly, held or dealt in securities or shares of any other club participating in a UEFA club competition, or is a member of any other club.

It found in these cases no one had any power whatsoever or is simultaneously involved, directly or indirectly, in any capacity whatsoever in the management, administration or sporting performance of more than one club, and that no one had control or decisive influence over more than one club in a UEFA club competition.

UEFA said “the significant changes” made “substantially restrict the investors’ influence and decision-making power over more than one club, ensuring compliance with the multi-club ownership rule”.

Union St Gilloise issued a statement on Friday confirming that Brighton chairman and majority owner Tony Bloom’s share in the Belgian club had been reduced to a minority stake, with St Gilloise president Alex Muzio now their majority owner.

Vitoria announced last week that V Sports, the company which owns Villa and is controlled by Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens, had reduced its stake in them to 29 per cent.

UEFA said the clubs who had been the subject of proceedings had also agreed not to transfer or loan players to each other, directly or indirectly, until at least September next year, or to enter into any joint technical or commercial agreements or to share scouting database information.

Brighton and Union St Gilloise will compete in the Europa League, while Villa and Vitoria are in the Europa Conference League.

Football Supporters Europe described the admission of the four clubs – along with Toulouse and AC Milan – as a “deeply worrying development”.

“Multi-club ownership is the biggest threat to the integrity of football,” FSE posted on Twitter.

“As MCO structures continue to test the rigidity of the system, governing bodies must adopt firm regulations before the whole game is irremediably compromised.”

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