Villarreal to replace Mallorca in Europe

Villarreal said Saturday it has been selected by UEFA to replace Real Mallorca in this season's Europa League after the European football's governing body banned the cash-strapped club for falling foul of financial regulations.

Real Mallorca finished in 5th place in the Spanish league, ahead of Getafe which also qualified for the Europa League. Villarreal finished in seventh and under UEFA rules is the next in line for a sport in the lucrative tournament.

UEFA announced on Thursday that Real Mallorca would not be allowed to take part in the Europa League after the club in May went into voluntary administration. The decision has angered the club, which according to Spanish media has debts of over 60-million euros.

"There are many clubs that have economic problems and they play in the Champions League or the Europea League. The players earned this qualification on the pitch and it its being pulled away from them," said the club's new coach, former Danish international Michael Laudrup.

Club officials have said they will use all legal means to reverse UEFA's decision, which they have called "unjust" while the club's fans have announced they will stage a protest against the ruling next week.