Brace yourselves, everyone. The UEFA and Financial Fair Play versus AC Milan saga is not going away any time soon, and it may have just gotten a little more grim than we hoped.
According to a report from The New York Times, which I dare say is a reliable source, UEFA financial investigators have recommended to exclude AC Milan from the Europa League next season for violating Financial Fair Play laws.
The decision whether Milan will be in European competition is to be made in early June, but UEFA referred Milan’s case to their financial control unit’s adjudicatory chamber to determine punishment for FFP violations after rejecting Milan’s settlement proposal.
"UEFA’s Investigators Recommend Booting A.C. Milan" by TARIQ PANJA via NYT The New York Times https://t.co/07yd0qataz— Smashground Sports (@Smashgroundsprt) May 31, 2018
Sources have apparently told the New York Times that a ban from the competition is likely. This is, of course, not good. The Europa League, while not the Champions League, brings extra income to the club, which is much needed to balance Milan’s books after a summer of spending.
Chinese businessman Li Yonghong bought the team last summer for $860 million. To make the deal happen, Li had to take out a high-interest loan from American hedge fund Elliott Management, which is due in October. After the purchase of the team, Milan spent $270 million to completely revamp the squad. However, since the massive spending, UEFA has had their doubts of Milan and their finances, particularly in that Elliott loan, which is reportedly worth over $300 million, plus interest. Milan was banking on making the Champions League, which would have brought in at least $50 million.
While Elliott has offered a financial boost to Milan to deal with Li’s apparent lack of cash, UEFA rejected a settlement proposal from Milan based on uncertainties of how Milan is going to pay back that loan. Marco Fassone responded to the rejection by saying he was surprised and disappointed, as “that (settlement) always has been offered to clubs in a similar situation as AC Milan.”
Elliott Management is reportedly prepared to take control of the club in case Li defaults on the loan, which is frankly looks like it is going to happen. Elliott can then run the club or sell it off, which has its own list of potential suitors.
Honestly, the idea that UEFA would kick Milan out of the Europa League for violating Financial Fair Play, when Milan has not violated the rules before, is pretty shocking. The other options include a squad size restriction, a fine, or even a transfer ban for a window, and exclusion from European competition is one of the worst options. We will end up finding out what UEFA decides, and that might be the first domino to fall for Milan. After that, Elliott may take possession of the club earlier than October. One thing is (seemingly) for sure, though- the Li ship has sailed. That’s over. There’s no indication he has the money that he said he did, and without the Champions League (or even Europa League, potentially), there is seemingly no chance that the loan is going to be paid back. The real things we have to find out is: what will the FFP punishment be, and who will own the club.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!