Barcelona have been provisionally admitted to the Champions League for the coming season amid a Uefa investigation into allegations the Spanish club made payments to a referees’ chief.

European football’s governing body announced in March that it was opening an investigation after it was reported Barcelona had paid €7m (just under £6m) to companies owned by José María Enríquez Negreira, the former vice-president of Spain’s referees committee, between 2001 and 2018.

Uefa’s appeals body confirmed the club had been granted provisional access to the 2023-24 Champions League but said: “A future decision on admission/exclusion from the Uefa club competitions is reserved.”

Uefa said four months ago that ethics and disciplinary investigators had been appointed to look into “a potential violation of Uefa’s legal framework” in relation to this case.

The appeals body said on Thursday: “The investigators in charge of the case are invited to continue and finalise their investigation and to send a further report to the appeals body if and when they consider that the admission/exclusion of FC Barcelona should be assessed.” Barcelona deny any wrongdoing in the case.

Barça were beaten 5-3 in a friendly against Arsenal in Los Angeles on Wednesday. Robert Lewandowski opened the scoring before Bukayo Saka equalised. Raphinha’s free-kick deflected in off Martin Ødegaard but Kai Havertz made it 2-2. Leandro Trossard then struck twice for the Premier League club. Ferran Torres pulled one back for Barcelona before Fábio Vieira scored Arsenal’s fifth goal.