The elite European breakaway Super League project was announced but quickly failed after most clubs pulling out leaving only Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, and Juventus FC.
With football finally calming down just a little bit now, ESPN have decided to take a look at the 12 founding clubs and analyse their financial situations and issues with fans among other topics. They have started with AC Milan.
Who are the club’s owners?
The Rossoneri’s owners are the American hedge fund Elliott Management. They loaned previous owner Li Yonghong €32 million after he bought the company from Silvio Berlusconi, but when he defaulted on the repayments, Elliott took control in July 2018. AC Milan’s CEO is Ivan Gazidis, the former chief at Arsenal.
Financial situation of the club:
On the face of it, the club is financially secure under the control of the hedge fund. They appear willing to pump money into the club — as shown by the renewal of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s contract for another season, but the supporters are concerned with other key players whose contracts are up in June and are yet to be renewed. The club confirmed net losses of €195m in October 2020 for the 2019-20 season, largely due to the coronavirus pandemic, with revenues affected by empty stands, and it had a knock-on effect on their commercial activities. The owners expect more positive results next season having been allowed back into European competition.
Main issues between fans and owners?
The squad, not the Super League. Supporter Marco Dell’Acqua, who wrote the ebook “101 Goals That Made AC Milan Great,” spoke to ESPN and said that the Super League is “out of their mind” right now, as they want the club to secure a top-four spot in Serie A. They’re unhappy that the contracts of star goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma and midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu are both up in June 2021, and neither appear close to signing new deals; there’s also concern that both Fikayo Tomori and Diogo Dalot are only at the club on loan, while the signing of Mario Mandzukic has not paid off. Then there is the ambiguity over the long-mooted new stadium, a joint venture between AC and their great rivals Inter. At present these plans are on hold amid uncertainty over Inter’s ownership and their financial troubles.
What motivated the Rossoneri to join the European Super League?
When the coronavirus pandemic took hold of European soccer, the projections were grim. Serie A CEO Luigi de Siervo estimated the league would take a hit in the region of 500m euros, with the European Club Association projecting continent wide losses to the tune of 4 billion euros. For a hedge fund invested in stabilising the financial side of the club and growing its value, the Super League allowed a clear path to growing the brand.
What’s next for the owners and fans?
The official communication from Milan ultras, the Curva Sud, around the Super League attacked the “hypocritical” outrage from the world of football over the breakaway league. They called out how no-one helped stop the rise in ticket prices, the death of the old European Cup, the rise of super agents, astronomical wages or the price of TV rights. But as long as Paolo Maldini is technical director, the fans see him as their barrier between the murky corporate side of football and the on-field matters. “He is God,” is how Dell’Acqua put it to ESPN. The relationship between fans and Elliott Management is on pretty sturdy footing at present, but if Donnarumma and Calhanoglu both leave on free transfers, that trust may start to erode.