June 25, 2024

Manchester United’s participation in next season’s Europa League is in jeopardy despite their recent FA Cup triumph over Manchester City. The 2-1 victory at Wembley secured a spot in the European tournament for Erik Ten Hag’s team, but UEFA’s multi-club ownership rules could see them banned from the competition.

UEFA’s regulations prohibit two teams owned by the same organization from competing in the same tournament. Both Manchester United and Nice share ownership under INEOS. Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s company fully owns Nice and holds a partial stake in Manchester United. INEOS currently holds a 27 percent stake in United, with plans to increase its investment by £245 million, pushing its ownership above 30 percent.

Manchester United announced on Christmas Eve 2023 that it had reached an agreement for INEOS Chairman Sir Jim Ratcliffe to acquire up to a 25% share of the club. This increased stake would place INEOS in violation of UEFA’s rules, as they also own Nice, which finished fifth in Ligue 1, securing a Europa League spot.

If INEOS fails to resolve this issue, one of their clubs might be relegated to the UEFA Conference League. Given Nice’s higher league finish (5th), they would likely retain their Europa League spot, potentially relegating Manchester United (8th).

Manchester United is not alone in this predicament. Manchester City’s parent company, City Football Group, faces a similar issue with their 47 percent ownership of Spanish club Girona. Earlier this month, UEFA 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 run secured a top-four finish.

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

Neither Manchester United nor Nice has made a formal disclosure regarding the next steps to address this issue.

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