UEFA approves Brighton, Toulouse and Aston Villa for European entry... - Texarkana Gazette

UEFA approves Brighton, Toulouse and Aston Villa for European entry… – Texarkana Gazette

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GENEVA – Brighton, Toulouse and Aston Villa, who were in danger of losing European league places, were cleared by UEFA on Friday to play next season, despite their owners having links with other clubs that have qualified, including AC Milan.

However, UEFA also banned the partner clubs – Brighton and Union Saint-Gilloise; Toulouse and Milan; Villa and Vitória Guimarães — from player exchange via sale or loan until the end of the summer transfer window next year.

UEFA established multi-club ownership rules 25 years ago to protect the integrity of its competitions when the teams can play each other during the season. Researchers appointed by UEFA have evaluated three cases in recent weeks.

UEFA noted the “significant changes by the clubs and their related investors” to comply with rules that “significantly limit the influence and decision-making power of the investors over more than one club”.

“The clubs will not transfer any players to each other, either permanently or on loan, directly or indirectly, until September 2024,” UEFA said in a statement.

That would prevent the kind of move Japanese striker Kaoru Mitoma made between Brighton and Union for the 2021-22 season.

Also, UEFA ruled that “the clubs will not enter into any form of cooperation, joint technical or commercial agreements. The clubs will not use a joint scouting or player database.”

Brighton can now make his European debut in the Europa League in September after convincing UEFA’s financial panel that owner Tony Bloom does not also have decisive influence at Union. The Belgian club is in the play-offs for the qualification of the Europa League.

Union president Alex Muzio said in a statement “it became clear that certain changes in the ownership structure had to be made” in order to comply with UEFA rules. As a result, Muzio said he increased his investment to become the majority shareholder of Union, reducing Bloom’s ownership to a minority stake.

French Cup winner Toulouse is moving into the Europa League despite its ties to US investment firm RedBird Capital Partners, which also owns Champions League team Milan.

The American owners of Aston Villa cut their stake in Portuguese club Vitória last week and both teams will now qualify for the third-tier Europa Conference League.

In cases of multi-club ownership, UEFA rules give priority to the team that finished higher in the domestic league last season. The lower-ranked team was in danger of being ejected.

Brighton were in danger as they placed a club-best sixth in the Premier League while Union finished third in the Belgian league. Aston Villa was seventh in England, Vitória fifth in Portugal.

The multi-club rules were most famously tested in 2017 by Leipzig and Salzburg, who allowed UEFA to enter the Champions League together despite both being part of the Red Bull group. In that case, no transfer limits were imposed and the clubs continued to trade a lot among themselves.

Friday’s UEFA ruling ended hopes of Tottenham, eighth in the Premier League, being upgraded to European competition.

The threat posed by multi-club ownership to integrity in football and the transfer market was identified this year by UEFA researchers in their annual analysis of the sector. They identified more than 180 clubs worldwide in a multi-club structure and a trend driven by US investors.

The largest project is the Abu Dhabi-controlled City Football Group, which includes Manchester City as one of five European teams in a global 13-club project. The new Champions League winner is the only one of those teams to qualify for UEFA competitions.

Brighton’s entry into the Europa League could well be the most lucrative of the three clubs at risk.

Brighton should earn at least 15 million euros ($16 million) in UEFA prize money with more to offer from win bonuses and progression to the knockout rounds. In the 2021-2022 season, Europa League winner Eintracht Frankfurt received 38 million euros ($41 million) from UEFA.

Playing and winning in European competitions is also seen as key to developing a club’s ambitions, signing players and earning UEFA ranking points that ensure more prize money and better placement in future seasons.

Winner of the 1982 European Cup, Villa has not qualified for a UEFA competition for 13 years and has not played in a group stage since 2008. Toulouse last played in the 2009–10 season.

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