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Man Utd ‘face European ban’ in UEFA squeeze after Ratcliffe takeover | Football | Sport

Manchester United’s European future next season is reportedly in doubt due to Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s involvement in French club Nice. UEFA have relaxed their multi-club rules to allow teams owned by the same group to compete in competitions, but have stopped short of giving the Red Devils the green light.

Article 5 of UEFA’s competition regulations, which come into effect on May 1, now allow teams owned by the same group to compete in Europe. However, they still cannot play in the same competition, which United and Nice may be heading towards.

Even though the Premier League are likely to receive a fifth Champions League spot in next season’s expanded tournament, United could still finish outside those places and end up in the Europa League.

Nice are also in contention for that competition, having suffered a big dip in form compared to earlier in the season when they were on course to earn a place in the Champions League. However, UEFA rules could punish United if they qualify for the same tournament.

The governing body’s regulations state that an individual or group cannot have “control or influence” over more than one club playing in the same tournament. If an UEFA’s Club Financial Control Body investigation finds that individuals within INEOS share control over both clubs, and they are unable to make the necessary changes to their business structure, only the team that finishes higher in their domestic league will be granted permission to play in the competition.

Nice would almost certainly finish higher in Ligue 1 than United in the Premier League should they qualify for the same competition, given the fewer places available to the French league, which would then demote United to a lower tournament.

Rivals Manchester City are running the same risk with sister club Girona, currently sat in third in La Liga, while Aston Villa and Brighton had to reduce their stakes in Vitoria de Guimaraes and Royale Union Saint-Gilloise respectively after reaching the same European competition this season.

The Sun claim that UEFA have confirmed to them that United and Nice cannot play in the same competition, but Ratcliffe has already played down the possibility of the Red Devils being punished because of his involvement in the French club.

“There are no circumstances upon which an ownership of Nice would prevent Manchester United from playing in the Champions League. I’ll be crystal clear on that,” Ratcliffe said in February. “It says you have to change the ownership structure.

“So it’s all about influence and positions on the board and that sort of thing. A: the rules are changing, and B: there are shades of grey not black and white. Manchester City will probably have the problem before we have the problem because they’ve obviously got Girona.”

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