Well, the deadline came and went and now the inevitable take over of AC Milan by the American hedge fund Elliott Management will start. Yonghong Li had until Friday to come up with 32 million or a new buyer for the club in order to avoid the repossession of his assets and Milan, but he was unable to come up with the money.
It now appears that Elliott Management will take ownership of Milan, starting as soon as any legal maneuvers that will be sure to be tried by Li. While the delaying tactics might buy Li time, they will be unlikely to change the ultimate outcome of Elliott Management taking over Milan. So now what?
Once the takeover has been completed, Elliott has two options. They can either run the club themselves for a certain period of time before selling it, or they could turn around and sell the club to the highest bidder.
Right now, Rocco Commisso is known to be interested in purchasing the club, but there have been plenty of rumors surrounding other potentially interested parties. Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has been mentioned as possibly having an interest in purchasing the club. Another American, Thomas Rickets, who owns the Chicago Cubs, is said to be interested as well. Both Ricketts and Ross have experience running successful run pro sports franchises in the United Stated. All three of the potential American owners all have substantial personal fortunes, and while that doesn’t necessarily translate to spending on the pitch, it would certainly mean that the club would be on firm financial ground.
There has also been talk of a secret Russian investor wanting to purchase the club, with Alisher Usmanov a name that has been mentioned. He was linked with a possible purchase of the club back in March, but he denied being interested. Another mystery buyer from Asian has been said to be interested as well. These rumors lack a lot of firm details and seemed to have come from out of nowhere over the last few days while the negotiations between Li and Commisso seemed to sour.
As for Elliott Management hoping to hang on to the club for awhile, it’s been reported that the hedge fund was interested in running the club for at least a year to increase the value of the club before selling. What that means isn’t exactly clear from a fan perspective, but the club being suspended from European competition should they qualify next season can’t have a good impact on the potential sale price of Milan.
Should Milan serve the FFP penalty next year, Elliot could, in theory, sell the club with the potential for Champions League revenue, something that it can’t currently do. So while there is a possibility that Elliott could asset strip Milan and leave a smoldering crater where the team used to be, that strategy won’t necessarily have a positive impact on the bottom line. It’s all well and good to sell the AC Milan “brand” across the world, but if the performance on the pitch doesn’t match the history of the club, then it’s a lot harder to convince a potential owner to pay a premium price for an average team.
At this point, everything is up in the air, but one thing seems to be clear: The Yonghong Li era at Milan is over.