Aston Villa’s Potential UEFA Conflict
While the likes of Juventus and Osasana await their fate in terms of UEFA allowing them to compete in the coming season’s Europa Conference League, you may have noticed that Aston Villa took evasive action this week to avoid being potentially banned themselves.
Uefa rules do not allow clubs from separate leagues owned by the same owners to compete in the same European competition. Article 5 of UEFA’s regulations states: “No individual may have control or exercise influence over more than one club participating in UEFA club competitions.“
With Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens’ V Sports owning both Villa and having a significant stake in Portuguese team Vitoria Sport Clube – Futebol, there always looked likely to be conflict, if the two found themselves both playing in Europe. Naturally, the season after V Sports bought into Vitoria, both teams now line up in the Europa Conference League.
UEFA rules stats that the lower-ranked side would be disqualified from the said competition, Villa currently have a coefficient of 21.914, while Vitoria’s is 11.243. So, according to the letter of the law, it would be the Portuguese club that would be booted out of the tournament. Obviously, this wouldn’t make Villa or V Sports very popular in the eyes of Vitoria and their supporters.
V Sports took distinct action of reducing their stake in the Portuguese club and put out a very clear and concise statement, stressing the two club’s independence.
V Sports Statement
V Sports has today announced that it has reduced its stake in Vitoria Sport Clube – Futebol, SAD to 29% by transferring shares equaling 17% of the club’s total equity back to Vitoria SC.
It also no longer has any representation on the board of directors of Vitoria Sport Clube – Futebol, SAD in order to comply with all UEFA regulations and ensure the independence of both Vitoria Sport Clube – Futebol, SAD and Aston Villa FC.
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UEFA Incoming Verdict
This coming week, UEFA are supposed give their verdict one the situation of Tony Bloom owning both Brighton and Belgian club Union SG, so it will be interesting to see if Villa’s situation is referenced.
There are many more examples within Europe of ownership crossovers. RedBird Capital in the USA, own both AC Milan and Toulouse, not to mention their ‘indirect’ 11% of Liverpool, due to their stake in the Fenway Sports Group. Then, of course, there’s RB Leipzig and RB Salzburg, who have competed in the same competition several times and have even played each other in the Europa League group stage. In Red Bull’s case, they had to rejig their personnel at corporate level to prevent a crossover of interests and break any links to shared ownership.
The ethical issues of joint ownership, is increasingly coming into sharper focus due to the fact Newcastle United’s majority owners, the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund (PIF), also now own four of the Saudi Pro League’s top clubs.