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Manchester United let fans opt out of Europa League run

By Mark Ogden

Manchester United have handed supporters a get-out clause should they choose to snub their team's Europa League campaign.

After being knocked out of the Champions League, the club has confirmed that ticket prices will be reduced by approximately 25 per cent for the Europa League last-32 tie against FC Midtjylland and beyond should Louis van Gaal's team overcome the Danish champions.

With United entering the Europa League for the first time since 2012, the club has also chosen to allow season-ticket holders to opt out of the controversial automatic cup scheme - whereby costs for home cup games are automatically debited from supporters' bank accounts - should they wish not to attend Europa League ties.

Having dropped out of the Champions League last week following a 3-2 group defeat against Wolfsburg, United were paired with Midtjylland - the qualifying round conquerors of Southampton - in yesterday's draw in Nyon.

Nicknamed "The Wolves", Midtjylland will host United at their 11,800-capacity MCH Arena in Herning on February 18 before the second leg at Old Trafford seven days later.

United will have a following of just 600 fans for the away game in Denmark though.

Due to Uefa restrictions the capacity will be just 9,500 for United's visit, meaning there will be an almighty scramble among fans wanting to make the trip to Scandanavia.

Midtjylland were Danish champions last season and currently sit third in the Superliga at the midway point of the season.

Despite being put out of the Champions League on away goals by Apoel Nicosia of Cyprus, Midtjylland are currently on their best run in Europe.

They qualified for the group stages of the Europa League for the first time after a 2-1 aggregate win over Southampton at the play-off stage, drawing 1-1 at St Mary's before a 1-0 home victory put them through.

They came second in their group behind Napoli, thanks to a home win over Legia Warsaw and an away victory at Club Brugge.

Tottenham, meanwhile, have been handed a difficult tie against Fiorentina, who lie second in Serie A, four points behind Inter Milan. The two clubs met at the same stage of last season's competition, with Fiorentina eliminating the Londoners 3-1 on aggregate.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was denied a reunion with his previous club Borussia Dortmund, who were paired with FC Porto in a heavyweight tie, but he will return to Germany, with the Merseysiders landing European debutants Augsburg in the draw.

In one potentially problematic pairing, Turkish club Fenerbahce were drawn against Lokomotiv Moscow at a time when tensions between Turkey and Russia are escalating as a result of the conflict in Syria.

Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini are likely to escape lifetime bans for corruption but investigators expect the pair to receive lengthy suspensions of at least seven years when their hearings take place this week, according to insiders.

Blatter and Platini will have disciplinary hearings before Fifa ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert in Zurich on Thursday and Friday, over a £1.3million payment made to Frenchman Platini by Fifa in 2011 and signed off by Blatter.

Platini and Blatter say the payment made four years ago was honouring an agreement made in 1998 for work carried out between 1998 and 2002 when Platini worked as a technical advisor for the Fifa President.

A decision is expected to be announced by Monday next week.

Belfast Telegraph


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