One-year ban shakes top team.
Record-breaking club AC Milan, one of the world’s most successful football teams and widely seen as a symbol of the city of Milan, has been handed a one-year ban by UEFA governing body for breaking the rules on “financial fair play”.
The Chinese consortium which bought AC Milan from billionaire Silvio Berlusconi in April 2017 was accused by UEFA of overstepping the spending regulations by buying Andre Silva from FC Porto and Leonardo Bonucci from Juventus last summer.
The regulations were designed to prevent clubs from running up heavy debts by spending more than their income. The summer spending spree triggered an investigation into the club’s financial health.
The seven-time European champions are facing a deadline for the repayment of a huge loan, rumoured to be around €220m and due in October. Worse in sporting terms was the club’s result of sixth place in last season’s Serie A, which meant Milan will not take part in Champions League matches, with all the prize-money and television coverage rights that would have brought in.
Stunned club managers promptly announced they would be filing an appeal against the verdict, saying they had “deep respect” for the rules, but expected them to be applied equally to all UEFA member clubs. They protested that the spending had rejuvenated the club, putting it on course to meet the targets outlined in their business plan.
Founded by two British expats in 1899 as The Milan Foot-Ball and Cricket Club, AC Milan was owned for 31 years by former prime minister Berlusconi. He sold the club to a Chinese concern after two previous unsuccessful attempts to find a buyer.