The ownership of OGC Nice by Sir Jim Ratcliffe could result in Manchester United being banned from Europe next season. Ratcliffe’s £1.3 billion agreement for a 25% stake in the Old Trafford club is set to be finalised very soon. The British tycoon and his Ineos business already own OGC Nice, who are second in Ligue 1 – one point behind PSG.
The new format of the UEFA Champions League could be lethal for the Red Devils. And there is also a chance that they could be banned from the competition next season.
Manchester United could be in trouble in the Champions League
Ahead of next season’s expanded Champions League, French top-flight clubs will be given three automatic spots and one play-off position. Now, the Premier League clubs receiving five direct berths.
According to The Sun, however, due to UEFA’s “multi-club ownership” rules, the only way Manchester United and Nice may both participate in Europe next season is if one secures an automatic Champions League spot and the other immediately qualifies for the Conference League.
If both teams finish in the Champions League places in their respective divisions, the team that finishes higher receives the berth, while the other is barred from Europe.
If both teams finish in the same spot, England’s standing at the top of UEFA’s “access list” means Erik ten Hag’s sixth-placed Reds would get the nod for Europe’s main competition, worth up to £140 million in TV and prize money, while Nice will only play domestic football.
If Nice finish fourth – Ligue 1’s Champions League play-off berth – the possibility of them losing the play-off and slipping into the Europa League means Manchester United will be forbidden from competing in UEFA’s secondary league, even if they directly qualify for it by finishing sixth or winning the FA Cup.
In such a case, Manchester United’s only chance of playing in Europe would be to win the Carabao Cup. If not that, then place seventh and hope that the Carabao Cup winners qualify for Europe, reverting the Conference League spot prize to the Reds.
UEFA speaks on United situation
A UEFA source confirmed the same. They said, ‘As the rules stand, it’s a clear situation. Ineos own Nice and are set to have a significant role in running United.’
They continued, ‘Unless the regulations are changed, or Ineos sell one of their stakes, they cannot both play in European competitions, unless one is in the Champions league and the other in the Conference League.’
These UEFA rules may also have an impact on Manchester City. But more likely on their Spanish sister club Girona, who is part of the City Football Group and has been a surprise pacesetter in La Liga. As of now, they are ahead of Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Atletico Madrid in the League. Only time will tell if they are able to make a dent to the big three’s title chances.