Toulouse could be deprived of European football next season because of AC Milan

L’Équipe report that Ligue 1 side Toulouse are not certain to play in the Europa League next season due to the qualification, this weekend, of AC Milan for the 2023/24 edition of the Champions’ League.

Toulouse have had great joy this season, often accompanied by additional events that have spoiled the party. After the big victory in the Coupe de France against Nantes (5-1, April 29th), Philippe Montanier’s men had to face a number of controversies including the refusal of three players (Zakaria Aboukhlal, Moussa Diarra and Saïd Hamulic) to wear a jersey commemorating the fight against homophobia in football (against Nantes, May 14th) then the revelation, on May 15th, of a supposed altercation (and subsequently denied by the protagonists) between Zakaria Aboukhlal and Laurence Arribagé, a member of the local government, during post-Cup celebrations.

Owned by RedBird Capital Partners, TFC learned this weekend of AC Milan’s qualification for the Champions League (they are now guaranteed to finish in the top four of Serie A), which is good news for the owners since the Italian club has belonged to the American investment fund since August 31st.

Article 5 of the UEFA regulations prohibits two clubs owned by the same shareholder from participating in the same European competition. Toulouse are due in the Europa League and the Italians in the Champions League this season. The rules go further than that: owing to the risk of a team that starts in the Champions’ League group-stages being relegated to the Europa League by finishing 3rd in their Champions’ League group, the same shareholder of two clubs can only see one participating in the Champions’ League and one participating in the Conference League. The American shareholders cannot choose which club is prioritised in terms of European competition this season, the decision rests with UEFA, who did not respond when contacted by L’Équipe.

On the side of the winners of the Coupe de France, they adopt a polite but firm posture, without going into detail: “Toulouse will participate in the Europa League next season,” President Comolli told reporters the day after they lifted France’s premier cup. The day after victory against Nantes, Comolli had already committed to a European campaign for the Violets: “We sent all the documents to the French Football Federation to obtain the UEFA club licence. We also had discussions with the FFF and they told us that we had absolutely all the prerequisites. Afterwards, if UEFA has any questions for us, we will of course be at their disposal.”

A press conference next week – set to be held by Toulouse – should shed some light on the issue, as this impasse is not totally novel. Already, in 2017, the Red Bull group had qualified two of its clubs in the Champions’ League, RB Leipzig and RB Salzburg, and some adjustments in shareholder agreements which have since allowed Germans and Austrians to play in the same competitions.

If no solution (favourable to TFC) is found, then the 5th placed team in Ligue 1 (a spot currently occupied by Rennes) would progress from qualifying for the Conference League to the Europa League. The club that occupies 6th position (currently Monaco) would then get a place in the Conference League.

It is also possible that Toulouse are given Conference League participation and are relegated from their Europa League status to conform with UEFA regulations, meaning that the 6th placed team in Ligue 1 would not get Conference League participation.


More European Football News