Milan faces up to new economic reality
03 Aug 2012
AC Milan president Silvio Berlusconi has stated the club is entering a new financially prudent period and hinted that it could be open to foreign investment.
The recent sale of star players Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva to Qatar-owned Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) prompted protests from the Serie A giant’s fans, some of whom demanded refunds on their season tickets. However, Berlusconi admitted the club had to accept the huge offer from PSG amid the new economic reality facing Italian football, and the country as a whole. “The economic situation doesn’t allow us to have highly-paid players such as we had in the 90s and 2000, like those which have marked our previous transfer campaigns,” he told the club’s official website. “Italian football can’t afford that, but it doesn’t mean we are giving up on winning by creating a great team, building a strong youth sector. I want to tell our fans that there is the possibility of building an entertaining and effective side even within a framework that does not allow spending sprees. We must have courage and perhaps a little patience, there will be a change in perspective and we know how to build a team of young players who will open a new cycle. I am an optimist.”
Berlusconi continued: “Football cannot escape the crisis. To spend more than Eur50 million a year in football you have to have incomes that are not there anymore. You can still make good signings looking for talent around the world and it was impossible for us to turn down Paris Saint-Germain’s offer. It has saved us a lot of money in transfers and wages, meaning our finances are secure for many years to come.”
Berlusconi returned to Milan in March, four months after having resigned as Italy’s Prime Minister. In 2011, Berlusconi’s daughter, Barbara, joined the board of directors that voted to bring back the controversial media mogul and politician to the club. In February, she insisted that her family remained committed to the club. Milan has been repeatedly linked with a change of ownership in recent years and its parent company, Fininvest, was forced to deny reports that a significant stake in the club was up for sale in July 2011. Berlusconi, speaking before city rival Inter secured significant Chinese investment, noted the increased foreign cash in certain major European clubs and admits Milan could be open to such funding. He added: “Italy has an acute financial crisis compared to other countries. On top of that there comes a psychological aspect. I have seen that the clubs that continue to spend a lot have owners who are outside the European system, the very rich from the Arab world or the Russian Federation but they will have to be part of the Financial Fair Play from next year so they are investing more this year. Maybe the door will be open to foreign investment and whatever is good for Milan will be considered as it always is.”