A new era is imminent at Manchester United, with Sir Jim Ratcliffe set to complete a deal to purchase a 25 per cent stake in the Premier League club.
Ratcliffe’s INEOS Group is expected to pay in the region of £1.25 billion for the minority stake in the club.
Part of the deal will see British billionaire Ratcliffe assume control of the football operations at Old Trafford, with a view to completing a full takeover of the club in future.
INEOS already owns French Ligue 1 side Nice, Swiss Super League side FC Lausanne-Sport and works with partner club Racing Club Abidjan, of Ivory Coast Ligue One.
Nice are currently second in Ligue 1, just one point behind leaders PSG, and well on course to qualify for the Champions League next season.
Their success has raised questions over whether both Nice and United would both be able to compete in Europe next season, if Ratcliffe completes his deal as expected and the two sides qualify.
UEFA has rules to bar clubs from its competitions in any season if owners have ‘decisive influence’ over two clubs.
Article 5 of UEFA’s club competition regulations relate to integrity of the competition and multi-club ownership, with the rules forbidding two teams controlled by the same person or group from competing in the same competition.
In 2017, UEFA investigated Red Bull’s ownership of Leipzig and Salzburg and opted to allow both to enter the Champions League after financial experts accepted their ownership group had sufficiently restructured and separated the management structure of the two clubs.
As Ratcliffe’s INEOS is only purchasing a minority stake in United, UEFA rules would allow both Nice and the Premier League club to compete in the Champions League.
However, should he wish to complete a full takeover of United in the future, Ratcliffe would need to significantly reduce his stake in Nice or sell the French club for both teams to enter European competition.
This may change in the future, with UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin saying earlier this year that European football’s governing body was ready to review regulations around multi-club ownership.
“We are not thinking about Manchester United only. We’ve had five or six owners of clubs who want to buy another club. We have to see what to do,” said Ceferin.
“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 shouldn’t just say no for 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.”