Why Manchester United Could Face a Ban from the Europa League

Manchester United secured a Europa League berth through their FA Cup victory, but a potential violation of UEFA’s multi-club ownership (MCO) rules could see them demoted to the Europa Conference League or even excluded from European competition altogether.

The Challenge: INEOS and Conflicting Clubs

The issue stems from INEOS, a company with significant stakes in both Man United and French club Nice. Both teams qualified for the Europa League, raising a red flag with UEFA’s MCO regulations. These regulations aim to prevent a single entity from exerting undue influence over multiple teams within the same competition, safeguarding fair play.

UEFA’s MCO Rules: Navigating the Maze

UEFA’s MCO stipulations dictate that ownership structures cannot involve complete control of two clubs or exceed a 30% stake in another competing in the same tournament. Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the chairman of INEOS, currently holds a 27.7% share in Manchester United, with plans to increase it closer to 30%. While INEOS remains confident of staying within the threshold for this season, the potential breach looms large.

Finding a Solution: The Clock is Ticking

Man United have until June 3rd to convince UEFA that their situation doesn’t violate the MCO rules. A potential solution involves selling shares to an independent third party, effectively creating a blind trust that acts solely in the club’s best interests.

Manchester United Not Alone: City Faces Similar Challenge

Manchester City faces a parallel predicament with their ownership group also having stakes in Girona, a Spanish club competing in the Champions League. Both Manchester clubs are racing against the clock to find solutions that satisfy UEFA’s regulations and avoid potential European competition downgrades.

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