Man Utd: How the English club could still miss out on Europa League despite FA Cup triumph

Man Utd: How the English club could still miss out on Europa League despite FA Cup triumph

Manchester United have endured a troubling 2023–24 season, which has primarily been earmarked by injuries, disappointing results, and talks of the possible sacking of manager Erik Ten Hag.

However, against all odds, the Red Devils defeated rivals Manchester City at Wembley Stadium in a Manchester derby FA Cup final on Saturday, May 24, to end their season on a high and book a place in Europe next season.

With their FA Cup triumph, United are expected to compete in Europe’s second-tier competition, the Europa League, joining Tottenham Hotspur as Premier League representatives for the new season.

In spite of this, United could still miss out on the Europa League as a result of a clash of interest involving their new co-owners, Ineos, owned by British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe.

Ratcliffe, whose Ineos company completed a 27.7% purchase of United in February and is in control of the club’s football operation, also owns French club OGC Nice, who will also be competing in the Europa League next season after finishing fifth in Ligue 1 this season.

Ineos completed their takeover of Nice in 2019, and according to UEFA rules guiding multi-club ownership, two teams owned by the same person or organisation cannot compete in the same tournament.

This regulation poses a threat to United’s place in the Europa League next season because if a solution is not found, the Red Devils, who finished eighth in the Premier League, would have to drop into the Conference League, Europe’s third-tier, while Nice would remain in the Europa League having finished higher in their respective league standings.

However, Ineos have reiterated their confidence in finding a lasting solution to the impending problem with a statement which read: “We are aware of the position of both clubs and are in direct dialogue with Uefa. We are confident we have a route forward for next season in Europe.”

According to reports, an independent panel is expected to rule on the matter before next season’s tournament starts in mid-July with the qualifying rounds.

This isn’t the first time such a step has been taken, as Belgian club Union Saint-Gilloise (USG) had to make changes to its hierarchy and ownership structure last campaign to provide them with the chance to participate in the Europa League alongside Brighton and Hove Albion, owned by Tony Bloom, who also has a stake in USG.

Likewise, Premier League club Aston Villa had the same issues with Portuguese side Vitoria Guimaraes in this season’s Europa Conference League.

Additionally, English champions Manchester City and La Liga highfliers Girona could face similar issues ahead of next season’s UEFA Champions League, as both clubs are under the umbrella of the City Football Group.

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