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13th May 2024

Why Man United could be forced to play two-legged Conference League play-off

Callum Boyle

United may miss out on European football altogether

Manchester United could be forced to play a two-legged play-off just to qualify for the Conference League.

United are in real danger of not qualifying for European football altogether after Sunday’s defeat to Arsenal left them eighth in the table with just two games left to play.

Should Newcastle and Chelsea drop points and United capitalise, they still may be able to qualify for the Europa League although it’s not looking likely.

Erik ten Hag’s side do still have to play Newcastle as well as Brighton and Hove Albion on the final day to try and confirm their place in Europe but they may have a lifeline thanks to Liverpool.

United’s Conference League dream

Due to Liverpool’s Carabao Cup win, the entry to the Conference League play-off round will be awarded to the highest-placed Premier League side not in Europe.

If United were to lose to Manchester City in the FA Cup final and finish seventh, they could be forced to play a  two-legged play-off in mid-August to gain a spot in the new-look League Stage of the Conference League.

As part of the restructured system implemented by UEFA, no team will directly qualify for the 36-club League Stage. Several sides will first compete in a series of qualifier rounds beginning in July.

One saving grace is that they would most likely be included in the ‘main path’, meaning that they would avoid the clubs who drop down from the Europa League stage.

The last time they failed to qualify for European football altogether was in 2014.

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