Elliott Management has officially taken over AC Milan from Yonghong Li after Li failed to repay an emergency loan on time. Elliott has taken over the club, notwithstanding any legal challenges from Li that are sure to be coming soon.
And while most Milan fans are ready for all of the ownership drama to be over, not every one is happy with the new ownership of Milan.
Does any Milan supporter believe a word of this statement? https://t.co/kYW2yCqpi1— Erik Stover (@ErikStoverNYC) July 11, 2018
Private equity firms aren’t known for sentimental ownership and gentle care tacking. Maybe it will be different this time— Erik Stover (@ErikStoverNYC) July 11, 2018
Erik Stover, the COO of the New York Cosmos, didn’t seem very thrilled that Elliott had taken over from Yonghong Li. The New York Cosmos, you might remember, are owned by Commisso.
Stover is right that a “vulture” fund might not be the best long-term owner of Milan. However, it’s not as if Elliott purchased the club from anyone, they got the club because the previous owner, Li, took out a terrible loan.
While having a hedge fund, who’s job it is to make money, may not be an ideal owner, it doesn’t sound like the worse case scenario is in play here. Milan are currently in trouble with UEFA over business plans and spending. The club also spent a lot of money without a ton to show for it. Asset stripping the club, selling the best players for cash, and walking away once the club is bankrupt would be the nightmare everyone fears, but given the high value of a stable, winning Milan, it doesn’t seem like Elliott could make as much profit from a stripped-down Milan as it would from a Milan that is challenging for a spot in the upper reaches of the Champions League once again.
If people in football have learned anything from previous financial meltdowns at clubs, such as at Leeds United in England, it’s that a fire sale of players and club assets usually results in a smouldering crater where the club used to be, with all of the shareholders and those that are owed money by the club losing almost everything. Elliott Management may not be angels, but they aren’t in the business of losing investor money.
Commisso might have been a better owner than Elliott, but it’s not Elliott’s fault that a deal couldn’t be reached between Commisso and Li. And Commisso will have an opportunity to purchase Milan from Elliott, although any deal to purchase Milan might be a little more expensive now that Li is out of the picture.
Stover might have genuine concern for Milan and the fans. However, since he’s an employee of Commisso, a more likely scenario is that he’s just upset that their bid to buy Milan failed. And while he’s got a right to be upset at Li, it’s not a good look to point fingers at the new owners on the day they take over.