If all goes to plan, Silvio Berlusconi will officially relinquish control of Milan on December 13. Whatever you think of Mr Berlusconi, it cannot be denied that the Rossoneri are the house that Silvio built. Since Il Cavaliere descended from his helicopter in July 1986 to the strains of ‘Ride of the Valkyries’, the club has collected eight Scudetti and five European Cups. By January 2017, 30 years of history will have come to an end.
In May 2011, Scottish businessman David Murray sold his 85.3 per cent stake in the country’s most successful side, Rangers. A steel tycoon, Murray had bankrolled the club since 1988 but could no longer afford the lavish signings he had bestowed upon his club in the late 80s and 90s. Sound familiar?
Questions remain, however, over whether Sino-Europe Sports – the company set up to represent the Chinese investors – are the knights in shining armour that Berlusconi represented three decades ago.
The media tycoon – and Prime Minister of Italy on three separate occasions – has agreed to sell his most prized investment to a Chinese conglomerate. In many ways, the move is a sign of the times. Chelsea are owned by a Russian billion正规赌博网aire, Arab oil money funds Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City and even the Diavolo’s city rivals, Inter, are owned by China’s Suning Group.
Marcello Lippi, the World Cup-winner and current China Coach, admitted this week that “no-one was able to give me an answer” when he made enquiries about the group. As a former Juventus and Inter Coach, the more paranoid sections of the Milan support would doubtless accuse him of bias, but even club legends aren’t convinced.
Murray sold Rangers to a group called Wavetower Limited, fronted by “billionaire” Craig Whyte, on the understanding that the debt would be paid off and £5m would be invested into the squad each season. It later transpired that Whyte was a conman. The funds never arrived and Rangers were liquidated in 2012, forced to start again from the lowest rung of the Scottish football ladder.
People may bemoan the amount of money in football, but it’s clear the Rossoneri need a cash injection. If one or two top-class players could be added to Vincenzo Montella’s young, vibrant squad, Milan may finally be able to compete at the top of Serie A once again. A seven-time European Cup winning club, the Diavolo are, if not a sleeping giant, then a lightly dozing one. If they can return to the top of the game99真钱, it will only be good for the prestige of Serie A.
Paolo Maldini, who played over 900 games for the Rossoneri, was invited to be part of the new board once the takeover is completed. The former defender ultimately turned down the opportunity, noting that he wasn’t even permitted to meet with Han Li. As Maldini said “any professional has the right to speak with his own employer”.
The first and most important doubt about the deal is that no-one seems to know the identity of those who make up the consortium. Under Italian law, Sino-Europe Sports are under no obligation to release their list of shareholders until after their takeover is complete, and they have confirmed their intention to do so. Their secrecy should be of concern to Milanisti, though.
On the pitch, the future is looking brighter for Milan than is ha365娱乐开户s in some time. We can only hope it’s the same behind the scenes.
This is not to suggest a similar fate awaits Milan. Sino-Europe may well make good on their promises, and in any case the Rossoneri are a global superpower in the way Rangers weren’t.
This takeover is not like the one which happened in the blue and black half of the city. Suning Group is one of China’s most prominent non-government retailers, with a net worth of over four billion US dollars. Before their purchase of Inter was complete, delegations from the Far East were seen at San Siro, including the conglomerate’s founder, Zhang Jindong.
Aside from director general Han Li, it’s not clear who is providing Sino-Europe with their funding. Indeed, Bloomberg and Chinese site caixin.com have both reported the use of fake documents in proof of funding. To be clear, Sino-Europe deny those allegations and it’s certainly possible that both sites were misinformed. What isn’t likely is that an American business site and one in China are vehemently anti-Milan and simply seeking to cause trouble.
A second red flag is a Gazzetta dello Sport investigation from earlier this year. The newspaper sent journalists to China, who described President Li Yongong’s affairs as “lost in a web of companies and figureheads”. A visit to the company’s headquarters in Changxing was met with a closed door and a silent intercom.
The point is that supporters of the Rossoneri must be vigilant. The promise of a return to the glory days has seduced many a fanbase before them – just ask Rangers, Parma or current Serie B strugglers Pisa. It’s only right for Milan fans to be excited about the future, but blind euphoria will help no-one.
For Milanisti, comfort can be drawn from the fact that Sino-Europe has already invested a non-refundable €100m. In addition, Berlusconi has worked guarantees of future funding into the deal. However, one must question whether that will be enforceable, and there’s a striking real-life precedent.