Super Eagles defender Ola Aina is set to feature in the 2019/2020 UEFA Europa League qualifying campaign with his club, Torino – an opportunity created by the ousting of AC Milan who will forfeit their spot as punishment for breaching Financial Fair Play rules, Completesports.com reports.
Milan have been banned from participating in any of UEFA’s European club competitions next season for failing to comply to UEFA spending regulations in the period between 2015 and 2018.
Milan finished fifth in Serie A last season and will be replaced by sixth-placed Roma, who will go directly into the group stages of the Europa League.
Aina’s club, Torino, who finiahed seventh will receive a spot in the final round of Europa League qualifying.
A statement from CAS said: “AC Milan is excluded from participating in the UEFA Club Competitions of the sporting season 2019/2020 as a consequence of the breach of its FFP break-even obligations during the 2015/2016/2017 and the 2016/2017/2018 monitoring periods”.
UEFA initially gave AC Milan a two-year FFP ban last summer, but the club successfully appealed against that sanction at CAS, only for the seven-time European champions to be referred to UEFA’s financial watchdog again in April.
Under UEFA’s rules, clubs are not allowed to make losses of more than £27m over three seasons, a cap UEFA believed AC Milan breached between 2015 and 2017 when they spent £200m on transfers.
But AC Milan managed to persuade sport’s highest court that their finances would improve under the ownership of American hedge fund Elliott Management Corporation, which assumed control of the club last summer when former owner Li Yonghong missed a repayment on the loan he had taken to buy the club in 2017.
That CAS decision gave them until June 2021 to balance their books or receive an automatic one-year ban from European club football.
But April’s referral for a second FFP breach could have seen the club banned from Europe for two years, which clearly forced AC Milan back to the negotiating table – where they have agreed to serve a one-year ban now – while they tidy up their finances under the direction of former Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis.
Ola Aina is presently representing Nigeria at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt where the Super Eagles have qualified for the Round of 16 with a game to spare in Group B.
Aina sealed a permanent transfer to Torino from Chelsea following the expiration of his loan stint, and will enjoy more value on his new contract if his club make a success of their Europa League qualifying campaign.