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Manchester United may be denied Europa League slot

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It is not yet certain for Manchester United if the struggling former giants will play in the Europa League despite winning the FA Cup.

The club will discover their Europa League fate after UEFA threaten relegation

They have been left concerned they could be relegated to the Europa Conference League after Nice, who Sir Jim Ratcliffe also owns, qualified for the Europa League

According to British publication, Mirror, Manchester United will be allowed to play in the Europa League after UEFA came to a decision on their future in the competition.

Though they finished eighth in the Premier League, Erik ten Hag’s side won the FA Cup. That win earned them automatic qualification to Europe’s second-tier competition for next season.

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But there had been some doubt that they would be allowed to play in the competition after Nice also qualified.

The French side are also owned by Sir Jim Ratcliffe through his INEOS chemical company.They finished fifth in Ligue 1 in the season just gone and UEFA rules state that clubs owned by the same company are not allowed to play in the same European competition.

Normally, the team that finished lower in their respective league would be relegated to the Europa Conference League, in this case United.

But according to The Times, both United and Nice will be allowed to play in the Europa league next term. UEFA’s Club Financial Control Board is due to issue a ruling on multi-club ownership issues on Monday.

It is expected that the CFCB will give their approval to United playing alongside Nice, subject to certain conditions. They will also be warned that the upcoming campaign will be viewed as a transitional one and this leeway will not be given in future years.

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The CFCB is also set to rule that Nice should be operated via a ‘blind trust’ by a panel approved by UEFA. It is a model that was used by AC Milan and Toulouse this season, with both clubs being owned by Red Bird Capital.

It is reported that a UEFA document on multi-club ownership says a blind trust would be a ‘temporary alternative… granted on an exceptional basis for the 2024-25 Uefa competitions’. It also states that UEFA’s multi-club ownership rule may be changed for future seasons.

INEOS only own 27.7 percent of United, but Ratcliffe has been handed control of the club’s football and business operations by majority owners the Glazer family. The British billionaire previously bought Nice in 2019.

Ratcliffe also owns Swiss Super League side Lausanne-Sport, though they have not qualified for a European competition for next year. The ruling around multi-club ownership also affects Manchester City.

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Hat-trick hero Lookman takes winding road to Europa League triumph

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 Europa League - Final - Atalanta v Bayer Leverkusen - Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland - May 22, 2024 Atalanta's Ademola Lookman poses for a picture with the trophy after winning the Europa League Final REUTERS/Paul Childs 

Atalanta’s Europa League hat-trick hero Ademola Lookman admitted that he had to wait a while for success after years in and out of favour at different clubs but said it was “just the beginning” after he sank Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday.

The Nigeria forward became the first person to score a hat-trick in a Europa League final in the 3-0 win, which handed the Bergamo club their first major trophy in 61 years and ended the German champions’ remarkable 51-game unbeaten streak.

“Maybe it could have come earlier, but it’s come now,” said the 26-year-old Lookman, who bounced around in England with Everton, Fulham and Leicester City and in Germany with RB Leipzig before settling in Atalanta two seasons ago.

“This is just the beginning. I hope for more nights like this and to just keep getting better and better,” he told a news conference.

Lookman, who was a youth international for England, credited the Atalanta coaching staff and leadership of manager Gian Piero Gasperini for his revival. Since arriving at the club, he has scored 30 goals in 76 matches.

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He pointed in particular to Gasperini’s belief in attacking football that has helped him to flourish.

“The first conversations I had with him made me look at football a lot different. It made things simple. It allowed me to play my game in a different light. I’m very grateful to him,” he said.

Asked if he would have imagined such a night in his wildest dreams while starting out as a teenager at Charlton Athletic, Lookman responded: “Probably yeah.”

“I’ve always had the confidence in my ability to create, to score goals, to help my team mates. In the past two years I’ve been able to take my game to a whole new level,” he said.

-Reuters

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Ademola is Player of the Match

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Atalanta’s hat-trick hero Ademola Lookman was named Player of the Match after scoring a historic hat trick for his club in the Europa League final match.

 UEFA’s Technical Observer Panel said: “[It’s awarded] for obvious reasons and his all-round enthusiasm and energy. [He was] really sharp and his execution was spot on.”

Ademola Lookman, Player of the Match, speaking to TNT Sports: remarked: “It’s one of the best nights of my life. It was an amazing performance from the team. We did it – fantastic. I’m just happy we won. We made history tonight.”

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Nigeria’s Sports Minister salute Europa League hero, Ademola Lookman

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Ademola Lookman, the history maker is held aloft

Nigeria’s  Minister of Sports Development, John Owan Enoh, has showered encomiums on Super Eagles winger Ademola Lookman for his extraordinary performance in the Europa League final.

 Lookman scored a historic hat-trick, leading Atalanta to their first European title on Thursday night in Dublin, Ireland.

Lookman’s three goals secured a 3-0 victory for Atalanta against Bayer Leverkusen, ending their opponents’ 51-game undefeated streak and marking the first-ever hat-trick in a Europa League final.

This victory also signifies Atalanta’s second major trophy, their first since winning the Coppa Italia 61 years ago.

In his congratulatory message, Enoh praised Lookman’s exceptional talent and dedication, which have brought immense pride to Nigeria.

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“Ademola Lookman has demonstrated remarkable skill and resilience, leading Atalanta to a historic victory. His performance in the Europa League final was nothing short of spectacular, and he has made Nigeria proud on the global stage. We celebrate his achievement and look forward to many more milestones in his career with club and country,” said Senator Enoh.

The Sports Minister also extended his congratulations to Victor Boniface and Nathan Tella, who played pivotal roles in leading Bayer Leverkusen to the final. Their contributions were integral in securing the German Bundesliga title, with the German Cup still within reach.

“Victor Boniface and Nathan Tella have also shown exceptional prowess and determination throughout the season. Their journey to the Europa League final and success in the Bundesliga is commendable. They serve as an inspiration to young athletes in Nigeria and around the world. I urge them to take pride in their performances and success this season,” Senator Enoh added.

The Nigerian football community celebrates these achievements, reflecting the growing influence and talent of Nigerian players in international football.

Lookman scored the opener in the 12th minute through superior sharpness, before hitting a brace with a fine curler in the 26th minute. He secured his hat trick in the 75th with a pile-driver hit of a goal.

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