Bundesliga side RB Leipzig is likely to miss out on European Football next season – despite finishing second in the league, according to Sky Sports. RB Leipzig and Red Bull Salzburg, which were the Austrian Bundesliga champions, are both owned by energy drinks company Red Bull. According to reports, UEFA rules “prohibit clubs with strong links to one another from playing in their competition in the same season.” Final decision will be make in regards to this next month on whether the two clubs can play in the next season’s Champions League.
If the UEFA governing body rules only Red Bull club can play, Salzburg will be selected over RB Leipzig because it finished higher in its league. It would also mean Leipzig would also receive ban from playing in the Europa League as there is a chance Salzburg could drop into UEFA’s secondary competition at the end of the group stages.
In London, Adam Shergold reels the Bundesliga giants remains confident that it will be permitted to take its place and compete in the Champions League for the first time in it’s short, but highly impressive, history. The issue for this German side is that it is effectively part of a football franchise – one of a number across the world founded and supported by the financial investment of Red Bull. Article Five of UEFA’s Champions League rules and regulations states, “No individual or legal entity may have control or influence over more than one club participating in a Uefa club competition.” However, it “appears that Salzburg’s strong financial situation may come to the aid” of its “German sister club.”
The Article Five terms reveal that no investor may hold “decisive influence” over the running of a club. In financial terms, this seemingly states that being responsible for 30% or more of a club’s total income. While Leipzig “splashed” £51M on new signings last summer, Salzburg “recorded a profit in the transfer market.” Salzburg’s financial strength means it is “less reliant on the Red Bull cash than Leipzig” and falls beneath this 30% threshold.
Leipzig is confident it “fulfilled all the necessary criteria and will hear the famous Champions League anthem” at its Red Bull Arena next season. Leipzig CEO Oliver Mintzlaff said, “We have done our homework and we are set up according to the rules. Both clubs are completely free and independent when it comes to decision making.” A “similar situation cropped up” in ’04 when Chelsea and Russian side CSKA Moscow were drawn together in the Champions League. Roman Abramovich was owner of Chelsea and also a leading shareholder in CSKA sponsor Sibneft. UEFA “looked into the links but took no further action and the two sides played one another” (DAILY MAIL,a 5/15).