Man Utd ‘could face relegation from Europa League’ despite FA Cup heroics

Manchester United’s spot in next season’s Europa League is under threat following their FA Cup triumph – and it’s all down to INEOS’ ownership of French outfit Nice.

Man Utd 'could face relegation from Europa League' despite FA Cup heroics

The Red Devils celebrated lifting a trophy for the second consecutive year after beating Manchester City 2-1 in Saturday’s (May 25) final at Wembley. The victory secured their place in the group stage of the European competition next season, despite a disappointing eighth-place finish in the Premier League.

However, UEFA’s multi-club ownership rules could yet throw a spanner in the works. These regulations are designed to prevent two clubs owned by the same entity from competing in the same tournament.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s INEOS currently holds a 27% stake in United but has plans to pump an additional £245m into the club. This investment would increase their ownership stake to over 30%, breaching UEFA’s multi-club ownership threshold, reports the Mirror.

Meanwhile, they are the sole owners of Ligue 1 team Nice, who clinched fifth place in France’s top league, earning them a spot in next season’s Europa League. If INEOS can’t find a solution, one of their clubs could be demoted to the UEFA Conference League.

Typically, Nice would retain their Europa League position due to their superior league finish, compared to United’s eighth place. However, it’s still up in the air which club, if any, would be relegated to Europe’s third-tier competition where Chelsea are the top seeded club for 2024/25.

Despite the concern, INEOS remains optimistic about a “solution”. Speaking to RMC Sport, they said: “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.”

In the past, UEFA has taken a firm view on multiple-club ownership, describing it as posing “the potential to pose a material threat to the integrity of European club competitions, with a growing risk of seeing two clubs with the same owner or investor facing each other on the pitch”.

Nice’s president Jean-Pierre Rivere chimed in on the issue after their game against Lille on May 19, stating: “Adjustments would have to be made. I won’t go into the details but it doesn’t pose an issue.”

Whichever European competition United end up competing in next term, it looks set to be under a new manager, given Erik ten Hag’s days in charge are very much numbered. Ratcliffe & Co are looking at the likes of Kieran McKenna, Mauricio Pochettino, Thomas Tuchel and Graham Potter to replace the Dutchman.