Manchester United may be banned from Champions League

Manchester United face the embarrassing scenario of being barred from the Champions League due to Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s stake in the club, which is close to being confirmed.


Ratcliffe’s long-running pursuit of a stake in United is on the verge of being rubberstamped, with the Ineos billionaire set to take a 25 per cent portion of the club. Ratcliffe’s £1.3 billion deal will throw up some issues due to his ownership of French side, Nice, who are challenging Paris Saint-Germain for the Ligue 1 title.

With France set to be awarded three automatic places and a play-off spot for next season’s Champions League, Nice have a strong chance of being involved in Europe’s top club competition. Despite their dire start to the season, United will hope to be in the mix too, with the Premier League likely to be granted five spots for the new-look 36-team tournament.

However, under Uefa’s multi-club ownership rules, both sides wouldn’t be able to play in the Champions League. In fact, they would only both be able to play in Europe if one qualifies directly for the Champions League and the other makes it into the Uefa Conference League, reports The Sun.

If both sides finish in the Champions League spots in their leagues, the place will go the club that finishes high with the other will miss out. On current form, that is most likely to be Nice. If the clubs finish in the same position, United would get the nod thanks to England’s place at the top of Uefa’s ‘access list’.

United could even be barred from playing in the Europa League if Nice finish fourth but lose their Champions League play-off and drop into second-tier competition. But missing out on the Champions League – either directly or because of Nice – would be the biggest blow to the Red Devils, with the competition worth a reputed £140 million in TV and prize money.

A UEFA source told The Sun: “As the rules stand, it’s a clear situation. Ineos own Nice and are set to have a significant role in running United.

“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.

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