• Sunday, February 25, 2024
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BusinessDay

Man United on brink of £110m financial shortfall, risk UCL ban

Manchester United may crash out of the Champions League if Erik ten Hag’s side fail to win against Galatasaray next week Wednesday and that could mean a £110million financial blow even as Sir Jim Ratcliffe nears a £1.3billion takeover with the Glazers.

Ten Hag’s side are currently bottom of Group A with three points from four matches, lost three and won one, putting their chances of progressing to the knock stage in doubt.

Also, the Dutch tactician has an uphill task to qualify for next season’s Champions League as Man United occupy sixth position on the Premier League table with Tottenham, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City currently the favourites to finish in the top four.

But crashing out of the Champions League at this stage and subsequently missing out of the top four race will have severe financial implications on the club’s finances, and impact on what Ratcliffe could then do to get United back to where they want to be would be significant.

While defeat in Turkey would leave them in danger of even missing out on the consolation prize of a place in the Europa League.

That nightmare would cost United an initial £13.5million – missing out on £8.35m for qualification plus £5million in gate receipts – and the chance of earning a potential £60million.

But it would also almost certainly end any chance of United being invited to play in the first incarnation of FIFA’s expanded Club World Cup, and a share of the £1bn cash pot in 2025.

Read also Ferguson optimistic of Jim Ratcliffe’s Man United takeover

Europe has 12 slots in the 32-team tournament to be played in the USA, with Chelsea, Real Madrid, Manchester City and this season’s Champions League winners earning automatic berths.

United’s horror defeat in Copenhagen before the international break leaves them perilously close to the brink of a humiliating Champions League group stage exit.

Bottom of their group with just two games to go, United must conquer Galatasaray at the Rams Global Stadyumu on November 29.

But the fans hoping that Ratcliffe’s arrival can transform the club after he paid £1.3billion for a 25 per cent stake and control over “football operations” may have to recalibrate their ambitions.

Also, INEOS’ chief ownership of two clubs could prevent one from playing in the Champions League. Ratcliffe already owns a French football club Nice, which could cause problems for Man United’s Champions League hopes even if they finish top four in the Premier League.

UEFA rules say that teams owned by the same person can’t play in the same competition. If both United and Nice qualify for the Champions League, the team that finishes higher will get to play, while the other will be banned.

The only way in which both Man United and Nice could play in Europe next season is if one qualifies automatically for the Champions League group stage and the other directly enters the Conference League.

A UEFA source told the Sun that the situation is “clear,” as teams controlled by the same party must be prevented from facing each other in the same competition, as stated by Article 5.02 of UEFA’s regulations.

If they finish in the same position, United would qualify because England is ranked higher on UEFA’s “access list.”

Earlier this year, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin hinted during a chat with ex-United captain Gary Neville that their multi-club ownership rules might soon be relaxed.

“We are not thinking about Manchester United only,” Ceferin revealed in March.

“We’ve had five or six owners of clubs who want to buy another club. We have to see what to do. The options are that it stays like that or that we allow them to play in the same competition.

“I’m not sure yet. We have to speak about these regulations and see what to do about it. There is more and more interest in this multi-club ownership. We should not just say no to the investments for multi-club ownership, but we have to see what kind of rules we set in that case because the rules have to be strict.”