UEFA released its regulations regarding multi-club ownership, and that has major implications for the status of Manchester United in Europe next season. The rules state clubs with the same ownership group, like Manchester United and Nice for example, can play in Europe. However, they must be in different competitions. If they are in the same competition, the team with the higher domestic standing would earn access to the UEFA Champions League, Europa League or Conference League.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe owns a minority stake in Manchester United, a property he officially acquired at the end of February. The English billionaire is also the owner of OGC Nice in Ligue 1 through his chemical company Ineos. Both sides are going to qualify for Europe next season. Yet, due to Nice’s poor form since the turn of the calendar year, both are headed toward the Europa League.

Based on the multi-club ownership rules from UEFA. Only Nice would qualify. As a result, Manchester United would not be able to qualify for Europe. The distinguishing factor for Nice in getting the Europa League spot is the result of the Premier League getting one additional Champions League spot next season. Based on English sides’ success across UEFA club competitions this season, the league’s club coefficient earned it a fifth place in the Champions League. Nice, currently in fifth in Ligue 1, ranks higher in its domestic championship than Manchester United, sixth in the Premier League.

In this scenario, Manchester United would go to the UEFA Conference League. Therefore, it would not be entirely without European soccer. However, if both clubs finish in the Conference League, Nice retains the spot due to the domestic table.

Confusion for Manchester United and its status in Europe

The ruling from UEFA goes against what Sir Jim Ratcliffe heard from the European governing body before his takeover of Manchester United. The billionaire claimed UEFA told him there were “no circumstances” in which his ownership of Nice would hinder Manchester United from qualifying for Europe. However, a UEFA insider told SunSport that the two clubs cannot play in the same competition.

One consideration is that of domestic cup competitions. Manchester United is still competing in the FA Cup, with a semifinal fixture against Coventry City happening in April. The winner of the FA Cup earns a spot in the Europa League. Granted, that is where both are headed based on the current table. Yet, it would give Manchester United preference in the Europa League as domestic cup winners. Consequently, that relegates Nice to the Conference League.

In another scenario, let’s say both Nice and Manchester United finish fourth in their domestic leagues. Nice is level on points with Lille, the club currently in fourth. Meanwhile, Manchester United is six points out of the top four. If both Manchester United and Lille finish fourth, Manchester United would get into the Champions League. In Ligue 1, the fourth-place team only reaches the Champions League playoff phase, not the group stage. By comparison, the fourth-place team in the Premier League gets an automatic spot. If United finishes fifth and Nice is fourth, the French club would enter the Champions League based on the placement in each club’s respective table.