Silvio Berlusconi has been the man behind AC Milan -- for better or worse -- since 1986, but his tenure is now over. The controversial Italian has agreed to sell the club to a group of Chinese investors, ending a 30-year reign at the San Siro.
The deal values the club at €740 million, with approximately another €220 million in debt. As part of the sale, the new owners will have to invest at least €350 million into the club over the next three years.
Berlusconi's time at the helm of AC Milan had some magnificent highs. The club won eight Serie A titles and captured the UEFA Champions League an astonishing five times. They grew to be one of the biggest clubs in the world, full of the best players on the planet, incredible managers and had an ever-increasing trophy case to go with it. But the club has struggled of late.
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AC Milan have finished eighth, 10th and seventh in the last three seasons, leaving them out of European competitions entirely. They've sold some of their best players and no longer claim to be one of the best on the continent. They're not even one of the best in Italy.
Some of that is due to Berlusconi. He hasn't funded the club in the same way he had in the past and AC Milan's ability to spend has been tied to Berlusconi's financials.
Berlusconi's financials haven't exactly been straightforward or stable. Neither has his life. The three-time Italy prime minister has found himself in political and legal trouble repeatedly. He's been convicted of tax fraud, paying for sex with an under-age prostitute, abusing his power and breaching confidentiality, although none of that was tied to his role as the president of AC Milan.
As rumors of Berlusconi potentially selling the club have swirled, more and more AC Milan supporters have been open about their desire for new leadership. Now they will get that.
The new Chinese owners haven't spoken about what their plans are for the club. The only concrete information is that they have to spend €350 million, but that could go into transfers, wages, support staff, the academy, infrastructure or whatever they see fit. They certainly need to sort out their team, which is weak, and decide who is going to run the club. They may also investigate a new stadium for the club, which Berlusconi spent years trying to get off the ground, but finally abandoned in 2015.
Where AC Milan go from here is unknown, but it is certainly a new era. Berlusconi has been the leader of the club for three decades now, through many good times and, more recently, through some rough times. Now, they will have new leadership and a new direction, although with the same goal -- to make AC Milan an Italian and European power again.
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