HomeFeatured ArticlesManchester United's Europa League Spot in Jeopardy

Manchester United’s Europa League Spot in Jeopardy

Europa League Ban Looms Over Manchester United Amid Multi-Club Ownership Controversy

Manchester United’s participation in the next season’s Europa League is in jeopardy due to potential violations of UEFA rules concerning multi-club ownership. This comes after the Red Devils’ recent triumph in the FA Cup, which granted them a Europa League spot, despite their eighth-place finish in the Premier League.

United’s owners, INEOS, also hold significant stakes in French club Nice, creating a conflict with UEFA’s regulations that prohibit teams under the same ownership from competing in the same tournament. Nice secured their Europa League berth by finishing fifth in Ligue 1, further complicating the situation for INEOS.

Potential Consequences and INEOS’ Response

As the lower-placed team in their domestic league, United face the risk of being relegated to the Conference League instead. However, INEOS remains optimistic about resolving the issue. “We are aware of the position of the two clubs and we are in direct dialogue with UEFA. We are convinced that we have a solution for next season in Europe,” INEOS stated.

INEOS’ stake in Manchester United is reportedly under 30%, aligning with UEFA’s regulations, which could provide a basis for the expected reprieve. Nice, acquired by Ratcliffe in 2019 for €100m, is part of INEOS’ sports portfolio, and the partial purchase of United was completed earlier in 2024.

Picture:IMAGO

Comparisons to Other Multi-Club Ownership Cases

The scenario is reminiscent of past instances where UEFA has had to navigate the complex landscape of multi-club ownership. Notably, the City Football Group’s 47% stake in La Liga side Girona has raised similar concerns, though it is anticipated that both Girona and Manchester City will find a way to participate in their respective European competitions.

UEFA’s historical leniency is also evident in their handling of Red Bull-owned clubs, Leipzig and Salzburg, who have been allowed to compete in the same tournaments and even face each other in official matches. This precedent provides a glimmer of hope for United and Nice’s case.

The Bigger Picture for Multi-Club Ownership

The issue underscores the growing influence of multi-club ownership in European football and the regulatory challenges it poses. With more conglomerates acquiring stakes in multiple clubs across different leagues, UEFA’s regulations are continually tested.

In conclusion, while Manchester United’s Europa League future hangs in the balance, INEOS’ confidence in finding a solution reflects broader trends in the sport. As multi-club ownership becomes more prevalent, UEFA will need to adapt its rules to maintain fair competition while accommodating the evolving landscape of football ownership.

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