Unexpectedly, Manchester United qualified for the Europa League next season by defeating Manchester City in the FA Cup final. However, UEFA’s strict rules on multi-club ownership can jeopardize this qualifying. The Red Devils may not be able to compete in Europe’s second-tier club league due to a technicality.

In particular, UEFA makes sure that no two teams owned by the same organization participate in the same European competition. This is one of their stringent regulations meant to avoid conflicts of interest. The present dilemma that Manchester United are facing is based on this rule.

The British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe owns both United and Nice. The Ligue 1 team finished fifth in France this season and qualified for the Europa League. With a further $300 million investment, Ratcliffe aims to expand his interest in the giants from 27% to over 30%.

However, owners who hold more than 30% of several teams are not allowed to participate in the same European tournament, under UEFA rules.

What now for United?

With no outcome in sight, one of Manchester United or Nice will play in UEFA’s third-tier club tournament, the Europa Conference League, as per The Mirror. United would be the one to go to the Conference League despite winning the FA Cup. Nice would retain their Europa League berth by their superior domestic league result.

Nevertheless, Manchester United’s FA Cup victory sets a precedent that may keep them in the Europa League while Nice is out. Thus, Ratcliffe and INEOS may wait until after the following season to invest more in Manchester United, which would be a good answer to their problem.

If they postpone their plans, both teams could participate in the Europa League so that INEOS’s ownership amount is not above the 30% mark. This seems implausible, however, as INEOS has cut down on spending in Nice in favor of their Manchester United project.

Despite all the uproar, the British company is still hopeful that they can figure it out. “We are aware of the position of the two clubs and we are in direct dialogue with UEFA. We are convinced that we have a solution for next season in Europe’, they told RMC Sport.

What does Nice say?

President Jean-Pierre Rivere of Nice agreed, saying that making the necessary changes to meet UEFA’s rules wouldn’t be too difficult. He was confident in fixing the problem, but he did not go into depth about the possible changes.

The issue highlights UEFA’s determination to protect the honesty of their tournaments. They believe multi-club ownership may jeopardize the integrity of the tournaments. In the past, UEFA has made it clear that teams with shared ownership arrangements undermine the competitive nature of European club championships; particularly when competing against one other.

Right now, the fate of Manchester United’s participation in European tournaments is up in the air. Whether the Red Devils survive these intricacies and earn a spot in the Europa League or suffer relegation to the Europa Conference League rests on the next several weeks.