By Bulldog Drummond
Milan have had a resurgence of late and after an unbeaten run lie seventh, just outside next season’s Europa positions…
As with the Premier League the top four go into Champions League. next two into Europa.
But all is not quite what it might seem…
Just as many would like to happen at Arsenal, Milan changed owners in April 2017 with Li Yonghong taking over the club,. But rather than that being the ending of their problems it was the start. We might feel that FFP is a dead duck in the Premier League but Uefa is monitoring Milan in this regard and sanctions are a possibility. The owner is outraged.
Corriere Della Sera, ran the headline “The safe that Milan bought was empty,” saying that the man who bought Milan for £628m actually doesn’t have the money and that a bankruptcy court has arranged for the company Li owns to be sold off on the Chinese version of EBay.
So either Li is indeed highly wealthy man who keeps his money hidden under the mattress to avoid the taxman, or he is (and here is the new word so you might want to write this down), a “mythomaniac”. Alternatively it could be argued that the whole thing is an absolute muddle that no one can work out.
Li said, “I want to … take the opportunity to explain – hoping this will be the last time – that the situation concerning my assets is safe and sound and that both the club and my companies are steadily working.” So that’s ok then. After all football club people who have just bought a new club don’t lie, do they?
The reason Li is in the headlines is that he took out a €300m loan in order to see through the takeover. That looks odd – a loan to sort out the teams loans? Are football teams as secure as that?
But then he brought in Gattuso as coach and it all seemed to start going right. As the anti-Arsenal media keep telling us, Milan have conceded “only one second-half goal in 2018 and approach Arsenal feeling upbeat when, two months ago, this would have resembled a broadside of blanks between two sinking ships.”
But still the story keeps circulating that Li can’t replay the loan he took out and is about to go bust. He is paying 11.5% interest – which in today’s financial world is insane and suicidal and he has to pay it all back with interest in October.
Corriere Della Sera has now said Li’s capital assets only total €100m, suggesting, in the words of the press, that there are “more questions than answers.”
Even the highly relaxed and easily bought off Uefa are appearing slightly “molto agitato” (if my Italian is approximately half right) about the whole affair and as a result rejected Milan’s offer of a voluntary agreement to restructure their finances and stave off any FFP punishment is not being taken seriously. And FFP punishment there might be, given their spending on transfer funds following their dire start to the season.
Uefa said in a formal statement, “There are still uncertainties in relation to the refinancing of loans to be paid back in October 2018 and the financial guarantees provided by the main shareholder.”
In Italian football it was ever thus.
So on the pitch they have done very well indeed. As to the finances, I couldn’t possibly comment.
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