Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has finally completed his long-awaited sale of AC Milan to Chinese investors for the sum of €740m.
That figure is the highest price ever paid by an East Asian investment group for an European club. Rossoneri Sport Investment Lux, headed by Chinese businessman Li Yonghong, now takes over the Serie A giant some nine months after Berlusconi told the media that “Milan has now embarked on this path toward China.”
In recent years, Chinese investors have been very active in the European football scene, gradually overtaking Middle Eastern oil money as the most dominant market force. Last year, Chinese electronics retailer Suning bought AC Milan’s crosstown rival Inter Milan.
AC Milan became one of the most successful football clubs in Europe after Berlusconi took over the club in 1986. However, the club has not been performing well financially and has not won a Serie A trophy since the departure of its star player Zlatan Ibrahimović in 2011.
“I leave today, after more than thirty years, the ownership and the presidency of AC Milan,” Berlusconi wrote on the club’s official website. “I do it with grief and emotion, but knowing that modern football, to compete at the top level in Europe and in the world, needs investments and resources that only one family cannot support.”
Earlier, Berlusconi had said that one of the conditions of the sale would be that the new owners would have to invest at least €400 million in the club over the next two seasons. In a joint statement released yesterday, the club’s new owners promised “significant capital increases.”