Reports out of Italy are suggesting that American billionaire Stephen Ross, who is the majority owner of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, might be interested in purchasing AC Milan in a cut price deal from Elliot Management.
News broke yesterday that UEFA had rejected the settlement offer from Milan in regards to Financial Fair Play violations. The reason for the rejection was not the previous spending, although that does play some part in the unsteadiness of the financial footing that Milan are on, but with the loan from Elliott Management coming due in October.
Yonghong Li took out a loan of €300 million from Elliott Management, a “vulture fund” and that loan is due this October, along with €80 million in interest. So far, despite attempts at bringing in more capital through investment or attempts to refinance the loan, Li does not appear able to pay that loan back. If the loan cannot be paid back, Elliott Management would take ownership in the club, and would then turn around and “flip” the club to another investor.
This is where the new ownership rumors come in. Ross, and any others in his consortium, would then buy the club in a cut-price deal. Li purchased Milan from Berlisconi for a price of around €800 million, and the price that Elliott would be selling Milan to Ross would be in the neighborhood of €400 to €500 million. Compared to United States professional franchise purchase prices, which have gone north of $1 billion, or MLS franchises, which reportedly go for $500 million, getting a club like Milan for €500 million would be a bargain.
Ross was linked back in March with interest in purchasing Milan, but at this point, it’s still too early to speculate if any deal is imminent. Would Ross be a better owner than Li? He has experience owning a professional sport team, although the track record of American owners in Europe football isn’t exactly great. He would, at least, have the money to support the team and not be scrambling around looking for cash and getting the club hauled before UEFA committees about finances.