UEFA ownership rule: Manchester United could face Europa League ban

Manchester United’s participation in next season’s Europa League is in jeopardy, despite their recent FA Cup triumph over Manchester City.

UEFA ownership rule: Manchester United could face Europa League ban

The 2-1 victory at Wembley over the weekend secured a spot in the European tournament for Erik Ten Hag’s team. However, their place in the Europa League is threatened due to UEFA’s multi-club ownership rules, which could see them banned from the competition.

UEFA’s Multi-Club Ownership Rules

UEFA’s multi-club ownership rules prohibit two teams owned by the same organization from competing in the same tournament. Both Manchester United and Nice share ownership ties under INEOS. Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s company fully owns Nice and holds a partial stake in Manchester United.

Ratcliffe’s INEOS currently holds a 27% stake in Manchester United but plans to increase its investment by £245 million, pushing its ownership above 30%. On Christmas Eve 2023, Manchester United announced that it had reached an agreement for INEOS Chairman Sir Jim Ratcliffe to acquire up to a 25% share of the club.

Potential Consequences

This increased stake would place INEOS in violation of UEFA’s regulations, given their full ownership of Nice. Nice finished fifth in Ligue 1, securing a spot in next season’s Europa League.

If INEOS cannot resolve this issue, one of their clubs might be relegated to the UEFA Conference League. Given Nice’s higher league finish, they would likely retain their Europa League spot, relegating Manchester United instead.

Similar Situations

Manchester United isn’t alone in facing this dilemma. Manchester City’s parent company, City Football Group, faces a similar issue with their 47% ownership of Spanish club Girona. UEFA recently mandated that City Football Group reduce its stake in Girona to allow the Spanish side to compete in next season’s Champions League after their impressive top-four finish.

Updated Regulations

The UEFA Club Financial Control Body has updated its multi-club ownership rules to prevent any form of “decisive influence” over multiple clubs participating in the same European tournament. This means that clubs with shared ownership stakes must navigate these regulations to secure their places in European competitions.

Next Steps

Neither Manchester United nor Nice has made a formal disclosure about the next steps to resolve this issue. As the situation develops, it remains uncertain how INEOS will address the ownership conflict to ensure both clubs can compete in their respective European tournaments.

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