Manchester United could be denied entry into the Champions League next season due to Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s imminent purchase of a 25 per cent stake in the club.
Ratcliffe’s deal to buy a minority stake in United is close to completion, with the Ineos owner set to take control of all football operations at Old Trafford.
In what will be deemed a positive for United fans wary of what to expect, Nice – owned by Ratcliffe and his Ineos group – currently sit second in Ligue 1, one point behind leaders Paris Saint-Germain.
But their success could be a problem for United, with UEFA’s current ‘multi-club ownership’ rules stating that the Red Devils and Nice can both play in Europe next season is if one seals an automatic Champions League spot and the other goes into the Europa Conference League.
The Sun report that if both teams finish in the Champions League qualification spots in their respective divisions, the team that finishes higher will be awarded the place with the other banned from European competition.
If both finish in the same position, England’s ranking at the top of Uefa’s “access list” would mean Erik ten Hag’s side would get in ahead of Nice.
The Premier League is in line to be handed five automatic Champions League spots as one of the top two leagues in Europe, while Ligue 1 will likely receive three direct berths and one play-off place. And this is where it gets complicated.
If Nice finish in fourth, in the last play-off spot, and United finish sixth, the potential of the French side losing the play-off and dropping into the Europa League means United would be banned from playing in UEFA’s secondary tournament.
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.”
The rules could also impact Manchester City shoudl Girona maintain their extraordinary run at the top of La Liga, given the Spanish side are part of the City Football Group.