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Sports court overturns AC Milan’s ban from Europa League

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — In a legal victory over UEFA, AC Milan is back in the Europa League after the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned a ban imposed for overspending.

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The court said Friday the punishment was “not proportionate” following a takeover completed last week, even though UEFA was right to judge Milan had broken financial monitoring rules.

The seven-time European champion had failed to approach breaking even on player transfers and wages over several seasons in which it failed to qualify for the top-tier Champions League.

UEFA was ordered to review the case and apply a “proportionate disciplinary measure,” the court said in an urgent ruling.

Milan’s reprieve was largely due to the takeover by a United States-based hedge fund which last year provided key finance to a Chinese-led purchase of the storied club.

In a statement Friday, European soccer body UEFA noted without comment that the case returns to the judging section of its club finance panel.

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The verdict was given Friday without detailed reasons from a three-judge panel, one day after a hearing at the highest court in world sports.

An urgent ruling was needed because the case affected Italy’s entry in the Europa League second qualifying round next week.

Milan’s legal win restores the club’s place in the group stage which kicks off in September. Atalanta, which placed seventh in Serie A, goes back into the qualifying rounds and plays Sarajevo in a first-leg game in Bosnia-Herzegovina on Thursday. Fiorentina, which placed eighth last season, is now withdrawn from the Europa League.

Milan broke UEFA’s financial fair rules which monitor finances over a three-year assessment period of all clubs qualifying to enter the Champions League or Europa League.

When it was banned last month, Milan said it failed to break even on soccer-related business in the period from July 2014 to June 2017 — before its spending spree one year ago.

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Milan spent nearly $250 million on new players. This was despite questions over the financial stability of the Chinese-led consortium that purchased the club from former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi for $800 million in April 2017.

The team finished sixth in Serie A, missed out on the four Italian places in the Champions League, and qualified for the Europa League.

However, the court said UEFA had not “properly assessed” some relevant points in Milan’s case, and the club’s finances improved after the takeover.

Elliott Management has promised to inject $66 million in capital.

Former owner Li Yonghong missed a deadline to repay part of a loan worth more than $350 million from the hedge fund. Elliott repossessed the holding company in Luxembourg that Li used to buy Milan.

Elliott Management owns AC Milan after Li misses deadline

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MILAN (AP) Elliott Management has promised to inject 50 million euros ($66 million) in capital after taking over Italian club AC Milan.

It says former owner Li Yonghong missed Friday’s deadline to repay part of a loan worth more than 300 million euros from the U.S.-based hedge fund.

Elliott says it has repossessed Li’s assets starting with the holding company in Luxembourg that he used to buy seven-time European champion Milan in April 2017.

A statement from Elliott says: “Ownership and control of the holding company that owns AC Milan has today (Tuesday) been transferred to funds advised by Elliott … after the previous owner of AC Milan defaulted on its debt obligations to Elliott.”

The fund had been expected to sell the club on but the statement adds that on top of the 50 million euros “to stabilize the club’s finances,” it also “plans to inject further capital over time to continue to fund AC Milan’s transformation.”

Milan finished sixth in Serie A last season to qualify for the Europa League but it has been banned for one year by UEFA for overspending. It is appealing.

AC Milan banned from European action

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Italian giants AC Milan will not be playing in Europe anytime soon.

UEFA released a statement on Wednesday confirming that Milan will not be participating in their competitions due to an ongoing investigation into financial fair play.

Milan had qualified for the Europa League for 2018-19, so what happens with their spot remains to be seen but perhaps Fiorentina will be handed their spot as they finished one place out of the Europa League spots in Italy’s top-flight.

Below is the statement in full from European soccer’s governing body.


The Adjudicatory Chamber of the Club Financial Control Body (CFCB), chaired by José Narciso da Cunha Rodrigues, has taken a decision in the case of the club AC Milan that had been referred to it by the CFCB Chief Investigator for the breach of the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations, in particular the break-even requirement.

The club is excluded from participating in the next UEFA club competition for which it would otherwise qualify in the next two (2) seasons (i.e. one competition in 2018/19 or 2019/20, subject to qualification).

This decision may be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, in accordance with Article 34(2) of the Procedural rules governing the UEFA Club Financial Control Body, as well as Articles 62 and 63 of the UEFA Statutes.

The full reasoned decision will be published on UEFA.com in due course.

Ricketts family, owner of the Chicago Cubs, interested in purchasing AC Milan

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The Ricketts family, who purchased a controlling stake in the Chicago Cubs back in 2009, have interest in further pursuing ownership in financially troubled Italian club AC Milan.

According to a family statement, “The Ricketts family brought a championship to the Chicago Cubs through long-term investment and being great stewards of the team … They would bring this same approach to AC Milan.”

First reported by the Chicago Tribune, the news of the Tom Ricketts’ interest in the team comes on the heels of news that current owner Li Yonghong had failed to meet a Friday deadline for a $37 million loan payment. According to reports, the missed payment means that Li will cede control of the club to Elliott Management, who loaned the Chinese businessman the money to complete his initial purchase of the club last April.

The Chicago Sun-Times also reported the family’s interest in the club, and quoted their source as saying, “The Ricketts put together the management team, resources and training facilities [for the Cubs]. [They did] everything you need top to bottom to be successful.”

Ricketts has plenty of history in soccer ownership, having previously been a part of the group that owned English club Derby County before selling back in 2015. This May, Ricketts also announced he was leading an investment group that is looking to bring a USL expansion team to Chicago.

Forbes values AC Milan at $612 million – a massive 26% 1-year decline – and ranks them the 17th most valuable soccer club in the world. That valuation could be further on the decline, as the storied club missed out on Champions League qualification for the fifth straight year, although they qualified for their second straight Europa League appearance with 6th place finish in last year’s Serie A table, eight points behind Lazio in fifth.

AC Milan also faces heavy sanctions from UEFA regarding Financial Fair Play, although those fears could be eased with the financially-troubled Li selling the club.

The Ricketts family’s wealth comes largely from investment banking, with Tom’s father J. Joseph Ricketts having founded Ameritrade back in 1975. Tom is estimated by Forbes to be worth $1 billion, while his father has an estimated net worth of $2.1 billion.

Report: AC Milan to lose Europa League spot over Financial Fair Play

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AC Milan’s loss could prove to be another Serie A side’s gain, as UEFA has ruled against the Rossoneri.

The New York Times is reporting that AC Milan will be ruled out of next season’s UEFA Europa League after failing to comply with Financial Fair Play rules.

If Milan’s spot in the competition is in fact stripped, Italy’s eighth place finisher — Atalanta — would take their spot in the 2018/19 Europa League.

Milan owner Yonghong Li has faced scrutiny from UEFA since taking over the club last April, and received further backlash after spending over $266 million this past season on player transactions.

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