Cardinale explains IP-based investment philosophy and Milan’s use of ‘ROI on goal efficiency’

By Oliver Fisher -

Gerry Cardinale has shed a bit more light on how he likes to operate the assets that are under the management of RedBird Capital, talking about being ‘an IP monetisation engine’.

Calcio e Finanza reported last month that RedBird has ‘renewed its arsenal of deals’ with $4.7bn (at current exchange rates, €4.3bn) to invest in more sports, media and financial services businesses after two years filled with some high-profile transactions.

The latest big deal handled by RedBird’s number one is another that is on the media frontier. It allowed Skydance Media – an American production company – to reach an agreement with Paramount for the acquisition of a majority shareholding, quantifiable at around two thirds of the total stake.

As Fortune write in their feature with Cardinale, the businessman has set about on a mission to invest in the best intellectual property whether that be the Marvel Cinematic universe or ‘an adored Italian soccer team’ which is of course Milan.

“If you have the right intellectual property, you can absorb the transitional changes from one distribution model to another,” Cardinale said.

“We’re an IP monetisation engine. That’s what we do. I’m able to look at the industry of sports, media and entertainment as ecosystems. And then I look for dislocations. I look for areas where there is a need to improve, evolve and professionalise.

“Each move is a derivative of the same play. It’s all a portfolio construction around core, premium intellectual property. If you start with the best intellectual property, it intrinsically rejuvenates itself.

“IP is such a good business because it is insulated from technological disintermediation. Right now, technology and the way content is distributed has everybody discombobulated.”

Cardinale has convinced A-listers like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson (the two bought the XFL together) and Ryan Reynolds (Cardinale’s co-investor in a Formula 1 team) that he can help them in business.

“They appreciate my desire to add value to them. I kind of look at them all as legitimate IP in and of themselves—and I can help them do more with their career than they could if I wasn’t in their life.”

However Cardinale rejects the notion of himself as a mogul, preferring the label ‘investor’ while he added that it is hard to invest in private equity because ‘the supply-demand imbalance pretty much drives you to levered beta’. He adds that Milan win games by utilising ‘ROI on goal efficiency’.

Cardinale admits some of his success was good timing, especially the opportunity to work with George Steinbrenner and the New York Yankees.

“Look, I’m not a genius. I mean, I just got lucky in my career that Steinbrenner came calling in 2001. Sports wasn’t an asset class back then. Next thing you know the world caught up to me, and I just kept going with sports, not knowing that it was going to become what it became.”

On being seen a relatively small amount at big events in the public eye, Milan’s owner added: “I really think being from outside that ecosystem – or at least one foot in, one foot out – is a huge competitive advantage.

“I don’t get caught up in the headlines. I don’t get caught up in the emotionalism. I’m not running to go to the Oscars.”

Tags AC Milan Gerry Cardinale


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        1. Damn straight. Same user name. Same points of view. Consistent.

          Unlike clowns like you posting under a new name every time with the same low IQ of a frozen yogurt.

          Keep it up, genius.

          1. There is no point in defending the current ownership. We are lucking in the sporting department ever since Maldini and Mocada left. While people like you here often note how we lost money with Kesi, The Kebab and Dolaruma.

          2. Absolutely right, same user name and same stupidity.
            Cardinal is a business man, he is loyal to money and profit and not Milan.
            He is an absolute ignorant in the sporting department, relying on his “algorithm” to save money.
            Who replaces a manager that finished second and qualified to CL EVERY full season with Fonseca that struggled in the French league to qualify to CL with a team that won the league a couple of years ago. Does that ring any bells for you ?
            Even if Fonseca was able to be the next Piloi which is the ultimate one can hope, the decision to hire him is still reckless, it is like if Ferrari hired Nyck De Vries, it doesn’t make sense, it is a step backwards in Every way you look at it.

  1. Let’s see if he’s really willing to spend and invest in the club. He needs to find ways to continue to increase revenue (a nice new stadium would help)

    1. 100mil last summer. 40mil+ (by the looks of it) to start this mercato…

      You’re right, he’s not willing to invest into this project at all…

        1. Right, and what were we spending on players during the banter era or the later years under Berlusconi? Or the big money moves of the Chinese?

          How did that work out?


      1. I wasn’t implying he’s not willing to spend, you read too much into my post. If he was smart and wanted to increase club value he would spend to the max allowed under FFP. Time will tell one way or the other, there have been some encouraging signs but they’ve only had the club for two years now.

    1. He isn’t running the club day to day, B. That’s what he has Furlani Moncada and Ibra for. His job is to work behind the scenes to grit the brand, which he is doing.

      He won’t address the fans because he isn’t that owner and the system in place is different from what we’re used to seeing in Italy. If his appointments are failing him then he’I’ll replace them. Otherwise he won’t be getting involved in any other capacity other than what he’s been doing.

    2. There is nothing wrong with this interview per se – it wasn’t for the fans and this site is only reporting it because it’s content for them.

      But yes, the biggest issue with this board so far is they are getting the relationship with the fans bit wrong. Hopefully they’ll figure it out. Outside of that I just see a typical modern board.

  2. In the long run having an owner like Gerry Cardinale will turn out as a blessing for this team, he knows how to make money, knows how to monetize sport, he knows how to create brands, what I am most impressed with, is his plans for the stadium, we will once again be a super power..

    1. Many here can’t focus that far ahead. Its “do everything NOW” and “what have your done for me today”.

      Milan is signing Zirkzee? “Cheap owners won’t spend for Milan”….

      Its a lot of one way traffic here unfortunately.

  3. I love this club since 98′ and what it became. It was romantic, a team but foremost a family that was built to win. A club with legacy.

    This now is just a generic, fast food, cheap on demand entertainment, buy low sell high business model of Wall Street Yippee-ki-yay cowboys who don’t care about the legacy of red and black and where there’s no place for emotions. It’s all about the Benjamins. At least until 2040 until we get our stadium and these bozos cash in and f*ck off with their coffers full of green back to US and A.

    1. Ted you have to evolve. Even the monkeys evolved into what we are today. This isn’t Berlusconi’s Milan. Nor is it the Chinese. It’s a new ERA. 2 years isn’t enough to judge what has or has not been accomplished.

      What are people complaining about? Results? Okay fair, under Pioli the results were a mixed bag of d|cks. Scudetto and a 5th spot and two second place run ups.

      Players being sold (Tonali the only one worth mention) money being reinvested into the club, unlike Berlusconi who had to pocket the money from Ibra and Silva sales. 100mil invested last summer. 40mil in the work already so far for a signing that is VERY GOOD for Milan.

      What do we disagree on? How RedBird runs the club? The transfers? Recall the banter era – traumatic. What has happened so far is YEARS AHEAD of that.

      What else? Coach? Yea, that’s a a tough one to process but let’s see how it plays out. Cheap salary and a short contract makes think there’s a plan B in the works.

      Again, it’s only been two years. Yes we haven’t won the Scudetto in two years because the teams ahead were superior. But we are growing and the team is improving.

      1. Evolve? What do you mean? Is turning football into a juicy cash cow comparable to the discovery of fire or the invention of agriculture or the wheel? « Progress » is just an excuse to rich a$$es to justify their predatory behavior.

        I agree with Ted, it’s very sad to see a special club like Milan becoming so dirty and with the approbation of some fans.

        Also, again, it’s not fair to compare the team when Pioli was hired, it was in shambles with many rookies. Redbird inherited a Scudetto winning team with world class players and a clean budget. What they’re doing now has nothing to do with sport.

        1. Bart, the dream of EVERY football club owner is to run their club at a profit. Name one owner who thinks otherwise, any non Arab owner (we know they won’t run out of money)

          Making a club profitable and improving its cash flow is not exclusive of ambition and success on the pitch. I don’t understand why you think it has to be one or the other.

          What is RedBird doing now that has nothing to do with sport? They are growing and making money which is EPIC. Milan is just one of their projects. So if RedBird as a whole is healthy and thriving, then its support of Milan will also grow and thrive.

        2. Football was always a juice cash cow. And the club became dirty way before the Chinese took over and then muricans.. I swear most of you people would rather rot in banter than have the club try a different approach..

          Sure the management is making some weak a$$ calls but this is nothing compared to the BS 7,8,9 years ago..


  4. Good points there ACM1899. 100% sense…I’m with you.

    I guess some long time fans have grown accustomed to the emotionally involved and present president so maybe some people are still getting used to his somewhat detached style.

    So far we seem to be going in the right direction, def financially and revenue wise.

    Zirkzee fingers crossed!

  5. I said this dude was looking to develop and provide a proof of concept for his technology in sports management to sell his model to clubs and other sports organizations. He fired everyone who contested, could be a threat or challenged his staff at Toulouse and their methodology. They did the same here with Maldini. They also imparted his philosophy and his partner Beane’s philosophy at Arsenal with Gazidis.

    When the top investments after sales were around the 40 million mark, despite having the possibility to retain our best assets without penalties. I knew this wasn’t ever going to be about winning or doing the required work to grow our team’s competitiveness when we increased revenues. it was about generating a profit to eventually sell his ideas and assets to other Americans or North Americans looking to make money instead of building winning teams in European football. He is trying to prove a methodology.

  6. Retaining what “best assets”??? Tonali??? Are your kidding? Look how that played out. We got RLc, Puli and Reijnders (plus others) while Tonali sat out for a year.

    “Top” investment is out of context when the gross investment was 100mil, man. Seems like you are trying to spin this to fit your narrative so hard.

    Ultimately, Gerry paid the money so he can order whatever the music he wants. And if you don’t like it you leave. Plain & simple. That’s what happened with Maldini.

    1. I think you’re wasting your breath. No matter how much sense you make, the people you are trying to convince are like Flat-Earthers. They won’t budge. “The evil Muricans are here to destroy the club and make money” and nothing’s gonna change that. Not even making an all-time record purchase (+ a few more).

      You can’t teach a monkey to fly a spaceship. That’s what you’re trying to do here. 🙂

    2. Maldini was not a yes man, he was a Milan man. That is the red flag you are not seeing.
      When the 1 guy who had the best interest of the club at heart was fired, that tells you all you need to know

    3. My friend, be real. You could feel the previous structure was working very well under Eliot prior to the scudetto. Clear project, perfect environment, calmness transmitted from the top to the players. This clowns… to be honest, I hope they do not spend much as they will only damage the accounts. You can not expect sporting success from the current set up. No matter how much they spend.

  7. Win trophies/Make money = Fans happy/Cardinale happy
    Win trophies/Lose money = Fans happy/Cardinale sad
    Lose trophies/Lose money = Fans sad/Cardinale sad
    Lose trophies/Make money = Fans sad/Cardinale happy

    There only one scenario where we are both happy. I’m praying that his ROI doesn’t get in the way.

    1. These owners don’t make money on yearly profits, they make money from increasing the value of the club… In 2021 Milan was worth $559m according to Forbes, they’re now worth $1.425b. You’re talking ~$850m increase in three years. Running some modest negatives on the yearly budget really doesn’t matter if it grows the value of the club.

      1. This is exactly it. Even Abramovich who was a ground breaking spender, bought chelsea for small money, had a net spend of 1 billion during ownership and sold it for 5 billion

  8. @ACM1899

    Dude, are you getting paid by Redbird?

    Pathetic that you feel the need to respond to every comment criticising the owner. What makes you want to defend him that bad? Only a yank would agree with his view of the club.

    The fans are allowed to be upset with an owner who by all means only views the club, and speeks about the club, as a financial asset. He removed the the only sporting director who has won a trophy in 11 years because he isnt a “yes man” and so happened to be a club legend. He has capped spending on players and the only reason why we spent 100m last season is because they sold a top player for 70m. Let’s not pretend like he’s bank rollling this club. He views the team not as a sporting project but purely an entertainment asset. He doesn’t care if the club wins so long as the club is in the top competitions. Gasperini said ot best the other day, no club wins if they continue to sell their best players. We’ll see how the next transfer windows go to see where the true ambition is. I am not betting on the owners keeping and developing a team that can consistently compete for trophies.

  9. ACM1899 I don’t know if you work for Redbird on Madison Ave like the new Ivy Lee or if you’re just a Redbird shareholder but it’s ridiculous.

    You’ll not convince the people who like football than helping Jerry filling even more bank accounts in the Cayman Islands will be a good thing for us, or that it’s evolution. What he’s doing with the club, it’s just prostitution. Milan is losing its identity and Jerry cares more about Serie A than Milan because he’s a greedy gold digger looking for the new frontier to conquer.

    In the end I don’t see how it’s different from the banter era if we recruit donkeys and don’t ambition to win? Ah yeah we have a sustainable budget. That’s great for an accountant, not for a football fan.

    1. “You’ll not convince the people who like football than helping Jerry filling even more bank accounts in the Cayman Islands will be a good thing for us, or that it’s evolution. What he’s doing with the club, it’s just prostitution. ”

      Prostitution? LOL. The hate is really blinding your judgment. Or you actually are THAT stupid. I don’t know which is better – and I don’t care. But your rants are from another planet that’s for sure. Entertaining too. And pretty sad if you think about it. 🙂

  10. To sum up the “intelligence” gathered from these comments:
    You either run a football club on losses so the fans give their blessing or make it profitable and sustainable and the fans call you a wh0re and say you’re ruining the club/football/everything.

    Fun times to be an owner, eh? 🙂

    1. Black or white only I guess. Either banter era, either banker era. No in between. So let’s just become the Marvel A.C. San Donato with joy.

      Call me stupid if you want, I have my own opinion on people feeling sad for a billionaire who cares about nothing else than money. Read Chomsky, Lyon, Lippmann, Bernays if you have time my intelligent friend, you can get some precious insight on the fabric of consent that is working well here.

      1. I enjoy reading your comments, you are clearly very insightful and passionate, which cannot be said for most of the people on here who don’t like the board simply because that’s the thought train they jumped on.

        In the wider context of the manufacture of consent, our board are of course amongst the worst of humanity, although it has to be said that within that context, profiting from a football club is a very, very small part of the problem.

        Within the context of football, the floodgates were already open long before RedBird came along. The money being pumped into the English game had already changed the games global landscape, and that is now – as Chomsky will attest to, irreversible.

        That puts Milan and all of Serie A (which I am in full support of improving collectively), at a fork in the road – close the financial gap and compete, or retreat inward and stay the same. The problem with the latter is that wealthy Italians are not immune to the uglier side of being wealthy – something Berlusconi’s sale of Milan to the highest bidder proves perfectly. We would eventually end up in the ‘portfolio’ of a RedBird anyway; wait too long for that to happen and we are a satellite club for Leeds Utd (and yes I am being deadly serious).

        Sophie’s choice indeed. I ultimately just want the football to be good, and I see a greater likelihood of that with the former of the two scenarios.

        1. Thanks, good to know that there are people understanding how our society works and the ethos of that ownership. I’m passionate indeed, even if all things considered, as a French citizen, there are currently more serious concerns nowadays than football.

          I’m not against investment funds, my passion actually came back under Elliott, I think it was perfectly balanced between business/entertainment and ambitions for trophies. The value and visibility of the club increased a lot. Oaktree with Inter understands that. A top football club should aim at monopoly in winning, if I can say it this way, and it’s good for business in the end. Cardinale’s interests are not the same as the Milan fans and it’s sad that many can’t understand that. I guess it’s the bewildered herd that Chomsky likes to refer to.

          1. I really do largely agree with you but I’m still in a ‘bénéfice du doute’ phase with them.

            In hindsight I think letting Maldini go was a mistake. I wa never a massive fan of ‘shirt and tie’ Maldini to be honest, but getting rid of him sent the wrong signal. Ibra is well placed to be the ‘football man’ on the board but for whatever reason he isn’t fulfilling that (or any) role with vigour. We need people who understand Italian football to work alongside the people trying to drive “the brand” (I welcome them but they need a wise head next to them). I read an interview with Galliani a few days ago and thought, my god I’d have him back in a second!

            The Lopetegui situation was a farce, but that has the potential to be a turning point and a realisation of what fans expect in terms of communication.

            On the other side, the under 23 project excites me and I believe Fonseca’s job is to start a cycle of utilising it. Also, I’d rather stay at San Siro but I appreciate its problems and even if the long term purpose of the move is asset growth, it’s still a sizeable commitment. And – right now at least, I have faith in this transfer window, although I think it’s time to be less conservative with our wage policy.

            Let’s see

    2. No thats not a great summation.

      This is a football club not an investment firm. The money taken in is from fans or sponsors who sell to fans.
      So no, fans are not prioritising the balance sheet.

      If they sell Theo to balance the books will you be happy?

      A club like Milan needs an ambitious owner, willing to front up, both personally and financially. Continue to invest in the team and hold on to our best players, even if we have to max out the FFP %.

      Then watch the team succeed and the club become more valuable.

      Maldini was the face of Milan, who gave us huge credibility. He was someone the fans trusted to have the clubs best interest at heart. Unfortunately Jerry, who has no connection to this club saw him as a threat to his power.

      1. “If they sell Theo to balance the books will you be happy?”
        – No. Why would I be?

        “A club like Milan needs an ambitious owner, willing to front up, both personally and financially. ”
        – Sure. But we don’t have one. B*tching about it every day here doesn’t make the owners change.

  11. ACM1899 really working for Cardinale it seems
    I’ll add that 10/m you talked about last mercato were pretty much 20m deals which only two worked and one kinda. (Pul RLC Chuk) So just stop. The teams needs to find the best profile for specific position and put money on one or two players and each year or mercato slowly build up the squad. Fonseca asks for RB and the “best” they can find is Emerson who doesn’t play? And tiago Santos who will 96% not gonna play that much???
    That’s all I can say we need strong investments every year if not every mercato 20m deals ain’t gonna work anymore also only two deals can be bought this mercato for 20-25m 1st Khephren Thuram and 2nd Youssouf Fofana that’s it

  12. Saying you can increase value of IP because you bring a certain level of experience is one thing. The other thing is that the infrastructure has to be present to allow you to monetize said IP. This includes infrastructure that prevents IP theft. Alot of these IP value gets lost by knock off companies in China. But at least that’s going on the right path. Right now we have $0 under the IP line in our balance sheet and that value is under intangible fixed asset (a very sus line though lol). Presumably this is where he wants to increase value (?). However, what I’d like to know is how exactly he’s going to execute this. What specific aspects of IP (I guess it’s not logos and branding as that’s already in existence) is he going to tackle? (It’s a huge topic , there’s so many layers that a single post here won’t do justice as is Gerry giving an overarching speech at a conference). For now, it seems very vague and he’s using his ‘past success’ as a proof of concept. But it’s a topic for another day. I’d genuinely like to see how he goes about it esp due to the barriers that present themselves in Italy and externally at large

    The odd part of this interview is him saying “He adds that Milan win games by utilising ‘ROI on goal efficiency’.” What exactly does this mean? I can show we have exactly the same amount of goal efficiency as last year. I think this is a huge misjudgment. Whereas basketball and baseball for instance more scores means more likelihood of winning, in soccer it doesn’t exactly pan out that way. This season is a clear example of that. We scored way more, still won nothing. It’s one aspect that gets overly highlighted (the offense part). The other part of the equation is defence. We scored more but we also concede more so much so that our +/- per game was the same as last year. Now if he’s talking about ROI…..well we spent 120m for say 50 goal gross contributions and a net of about 15 goal contributions. That’s a poor return imo.

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