Cardinale explains path for Milan, Elliott loan, recruitment vision and stadium plan

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan owner Gerry Cardinale has revealed in detail his plans to change not only the way that the club has been run in the past, but also the face of Italian football.

Cardinale recently celebrated an anniversary with Milan, more specifically one year since his fund RedBird Capital Partners officially completed the acquisition of the club from Elliott Management just over a year and two weeks ago.

Trying to condense Milan’s rollercoaster summer is difficult, but essentially Zlatan Ibrahimovic retired after the last game of the 2022-23 season, Paolo Maldini and Ricky Massara were sacked as directors, fan favourite Sandro Tonali was sold in a club-record deal and then 10 signings followed.

It is those signings and the improvement of the squad (on paper) which have Milan fans eager to see where this season goes. Three wins out of three is a good start to the new campaign, but the toughest test comes tomorrow against Inter.

Cardinale spoke during a long interview with Corriere della Sera’s ‘7’ magazine, with the interview also made available online and translated below.

The first image we saw of you, a year ago, is a photo in which you are in Piazza Duomo with the fans celebrating the Scudetto. You had not yet bought Milan, why did you go there and what did you understand from that experience?

“In reality we had already defined everything, but we had decided not to make it public before the last match so as not to interfere. There’s a backstory that no one knows: my dad used to send me to Italy when I was a child.

“I was here in 1982 when the Azzurri won the World Cup. I was watching Franco Baresi, Daniele Massaro, Paolo Rossi, I had their poster in my room, I’ll have to talk about it with Franco and Daniele!

“I was in a small town in the province of Salerno, Santa Maria di Castellabate, I celebrated with the fans on the street, I was 15 years old and I had never had an experience like this.

“This is why I went to the Duomo, it was like reliving a very emotionally strong moment; a very intimate feeling. That photograph reveals my being passionate, but not emotional, there is a difference.”

Explain it…

“The emotions belong to the fans, my responsibility requires me to self-discipline. The Curva Sud is fantastic. The fans are our partners, part of the club’s cultural heritage: here there is a community, in America it is different.”

Why did you choose Milan?

“I have always thought they are one of the 4-5 top clubs in Europe. We are here thanks to what our predecessors did, Silvio Berlusconi, Gianni Rivera before him, Sacchi, Baresi, Maldini…”

What does Berlusconi represent for you?

“I have enormous respect, he was a great visionary, the results speak for him. Berlusconi took Milan to the top then it was difficult to keep up because the world was changing, with a strong evolution in the use of content and technologies.

“This is a great lesson, you can never rest on your laurels. It’s the same one I learned at Goldman Sachs: every year we met to examine the results, we were always the first.

“But if you had seen us, you would have thought that we were last in everything because we analysed each business evaluating how we could have done better.”

You said that football clubs ‘are pieces of intellectual property that have a legitimate right to be monetised’. What does it mean?

“Football clubs are content creators and as such hold the intellectual property: there is enormous potential to be unlocked to realise their true value. I started more than 20 years ago, when sport was considered a hobby for the rich.

“With George Steinbrenner of the New York Yankees, we created the YES Network from scratch, now the #1 regional sports network in America. The thing I like about intellectual property is that it is resilient, overcoming financial crises and pandemics, but it requires constant work.

“Technology continues to change and fans increasingly want to ‘consume’ content differently: via cable, streaming, through social media. It’s not enough to show up with money and buy: today everyone has money, you need to have innovative ideas and a plan.”

And are you satisfied with your first year at Milan?

“I haven’t done anything yet! I entered on tiptoe and maintained the inherited organisation. Furthermore, I have great respect for Paolo Scaroni, chosen by Elliott who has done a great job and whom I thank: he is so consistent with the world I come from and at the same time so Milanista and authoritative.

“One of my best moves was bringing Giorgio Furlani [CEO] and Stefano Cocirio [Financial Director] to Milan who left Elliott without controversy. He gave me the time to evaluate what was working and what wasn’t.

“This is the first season in which I am involved in the transfer market and the stadium project and we are starting to apply our ideas to enhance the brand.”

You mentioned Elliott. Everyone knows that RedBird was financed by a vendor loan for the acquisition which generated a lot of rumours. This is an opportunity to clarify…

“Garbage. The reality is that RedBird owns 100% of Milan: it has invested 600 million in capital and controls 100% of that capital. I considered that continuity with Elliott was a virtue and therefore I preferred its pure financing, without shares in the capital, for 550 million at a very interesting interest rate, which I will pay in three years.

“I could have raised a billion in cash, I could have involved third-party banks, I chose to do it with Elliott, because I have enormous respect for Paul and Gordon Singer. It was an intelligent way of buying Milan: certainty, speed, the possibility of ensuring continuity to start off strong.”

There has been a lot of talk about the ‘Moneyball model’ – do the algorithms choose the players?

“It is crucial to understand that data is just one of the tools in our ‘toolbox’. From what I read it seems that if you are a data expert then it means you don’t do scouting well. It’s ridiculous.

“Moneyball was written 20 years ago, today everyone uses data but in our portfolio there is an analysis company with 13 researchers from MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology]. European football is not baseball, it requires a different level of sophistication and we believe we are at the forefront.”

What have you understood about football in Italy and what contribution do you think you can make?

“The thing that struck me most in this first year is seeing the distance with Chelsea in the two Champions League matches. Therefore I wanted a more physical, faster, more intense Milan, and it showed in the first matches.

“I will do everything to have a winning club, but as a partner of Serie A we must hope for equal commitment to reduce the gap between the entire league and the Premier League. To achieve this we need to change.

“I believe I can contribute, I have 30 years of experience, I have worked with the best. The company partners in our portfolio are Apple, Amazon, Paramount, Disney, ESPN, Fox, I have found innovative ways to maximise the value of the product.

“I’m disappointed that Serie A didn’t take this into account. I was willing to share my experiences, but no one seems to consider them relevant.”

In this growth, the stadium is a fundamental point. Will the Milan stadium be in San Donato?

“The conditions are encouraging. With the approval of the Council of San Donato and the Region, whom we thank, we have already held several very productive sessions.

“Our proposal is supported by an impressive volume of technical reports: it will be a state-of-the-art stadium, 10 minutes by metro from the Duomo, we will bring live events, world-famous artists will play there.

“A missed opportunity for Milan, to our great regret, because I have developed great respect for Mayor Sala. I am disappointed above all because there were some minorities prejudiced against it, who also blocked the way to the project in La Maura.

“It would have been the greenest sports facility in the world, with 85% dedicated to greenery and only 15% of concreted area.”

Do you regret having invested in Italy? Do you think the bureaucracy is too oppressive?

“No, I feel at home here. When we bought Milan, in America they told me: ‘You’re crazy, you can’t do business in Italy. There is bureaucracy, there is politics’.

“And when I thought about building a new stadium, I was told: ‘Forget it. Did you see what happened in Rome?’. But, apart from being told that I won’t be able to do something, it increases my determination, I see Italy with different eyes, I think that Italians are collaborative and open to dialogue.

“I would like to invest more here. When we build the new stadium it will be a billion dollar project and it would be a good sign if it were also supported by Italian capital. It would be a response to those who claim that you can’t do business in Italy.”

Did you manage to visit Milan much? What did you appreciate most?

“I love going around and discovering restaurants I don’t know, I want to integrate, become a bit Milanese. I love being a Milan fan, part of this community. Now people recognise me, I like them to come closer.”

This summer there was a change in management. Aren’t you afraid that they’ll throw it back at your first defeat?

“At that moment someone had commented: ‘Well, Cardinale doesn’t want to spend on Milan’. But do you think he invests 1.2 billion to make immediate money? It’s a long-term project: I want to win, but not just once, many times, over time.

“In football I want to be a Berlusconi 2.0, to have the same impact as him in a completely changed context. Now, with the highest turnover in Milan’s history and a balance sheet that will close in the black for the first time since 2006, we face a new phase: we want to be No. 1, but we can’t do it without changes.”

At Harvard and Oxford you practiced rowing, did sport teach you anything?

“I grew up in Philadelphia, where John Kelly, Grace Kelly’s brother, was a very famous rower. The beauty of rowing is that it is the team sport par excellence: when you row you actually go backwards, with each stroke you create a vortex in the water and everyone can see who pulled and who didn’t.

“This is the ethics of rowing. Today I row more on the car and play tennis, which interests me as an investment for RedBird. I have an excellent relationship with Novak Djokovic, a big AC Milan fan.”

We know you are not active on social media, but do you think it has a role in football?

“Basically I am morally against it. I have young children, a 16 year old who is quite good at not following them too much, but for kids they can become dangerous.

“I believe in face-to-face communication, in writing a letter, in making a phone call. Social media can be great for uniting our community of fans, but they must be used responsibly.”

How is the relationship between Americans and football? Is there still a liking or is it becoming a true love with the arrival of Messi?

“Good question. Now that streaming has allowed European soccer to be broadcast live in America, it will be very difficult to compete, most US fans watch European teams.

“Messi’s arrival led to an increase in interest, but Beckham already did it 15 years ago: two players don’t take American football to where it needs to be.”

What do you think of the Saudi Arabia phenomenon? Will it last?

“I don’t know if it will last, but I have enormous respect for the Saudis. If, as it seems, they want to enter the global sports ecosystem and improve it, bring new ideas, I think that’s positive.

“In general today, those who have money invest in sport: there has been a massive escalation in valuations. I’ve said it before in America, we’re in a bubble. But nothing always goes up anyway.”

And when the bubble bursts, not everyone survives…

“An evolution is needed in the type of capital that sports teams own. I don’t write checks, I write business plans. And if you write the business plan and sign it with the other components of the value chain, such as the fans, such as local institutions, such as the media, you will write a business plan that will work.”

Tags AC Milan Gerry Cardinale


  1. “I was here in 1982 when the Azzurri won the World Cup. I was watching Franco Baresi, Daniele Massaro, Paolo Rossi, I had their poster in my room, I’ll have to talk about it with Franco and Daniele.

    Baresi never played a single match for Italy in 1982😂😂😂.

    1. Now, don’t be splitting hairs. It’s perfectly clear what the man was saying, and you shouldn’t be shooting towards the stars for every little mistake.
      So far he makes good impression and that’s important. We’ll see what happens next.

    1. Its his club, he literally paid for it and supports it, not Maldini’s just because you played here doesnt give you some sort of special privileges in the running decision of the club

  2. “This summer there was a change in management. Aren’t you afraid that they’ll throw it back at your first defeat?” Oh it’s coming alright. This guy clearly knows what he’s doing but if we lose against Inter, Maldinisti are going to lose their sh*t.

    1. Based on Cardinale’s answer, it seems he sacked Maldini because Maldini want a transfer investment that would break Milan’s financial health (it should not be done especially with FFP agreement signed last year).

      1. Man I should have read your comment first 🤦‍♂️
        Also I probably should have read everyone’s comments first as it seems the usual freaking out has occurred. I thought the interview was really nice. And gave us perspectives.

    2. The actual match going fans and the people who watch matches are fine, they wont overreact and they are keeping their expectations in check

      The online AC Maldini fan club is just waiting for Milan to lose so they can celebrate

    3. well i liked maldini the player and maldini the sports director but i think its a truth with modifications what you are saying here. As much as i think some will complain most people propably can understand that even though we would all want to win its not as such decisive as all teams will lose point throughout the season so at least from the current standpoint its not the end of the world.

  3. According to Cardinale, everyone already utilize data, Moneyball is outdated and not designed for football. What being used by Milan is more sophisticated. He just debunked media narrative.

    Also, Cardinale will pay the loan from Elliot, not Mian. He just debunked pro-investcorp narrative

  4. Hey he isnt an idiot like you people said, he isnt a bond villian laughing while plotting the destruction of Milan either

    Those who overreacted in June must be feeling massive embarrassment right about now lmao, each Milan win now hurts them so much

    1. you always make up bs as you see fit, please tell me who on this web site made him into a bond villain ? seriously thats well beyond what ive read anyone suggest.
      Very few also suggested that he would destroy the club which i personally judged more as troll attempts or at least misguided assumptions.

      Yes lots of people was angry about the sacking of maldini and the sale of tonali but fact is you are propably the commenter/troll on sempremilan who writes the most nonsense and regularly makes up false claims and you seriously think you have some sort of moral high ground on ANY matters.

      1. Yes back in June it was so positive and people totally werent overreacting and posting negative articles and comments on how evil Redbird is and how all they want is to sell every player so they can make profits, even posting obscure french articles to prove their points on how much Gerry sucks lmao

        and now that the opposite happened we just forget about it because its too embarrassing for them, so it never happened!! Too bad you cant turn back time huh? lmao

        1. I was for the redbird aquisition instead of the investicorp one but certainly wasnt happy about the sacking of maldini or for that matter the sale of tonali and still isnt too happy about that. but besides of that ive been in praise of the aquisitions we have done and already was in july but you still didnt answer my question who on tthis website made cardinale into a bond villain ?

          The great majority of people moved onwards and of course wants the best for the club but you simply wont move forward while you are actually trolling and if my memory serves me right you even recently used the wording “baiting” someone and that really should tell it all.

          Im for one are not embarassed but you really should be for writing all those false comments of yours.

          1. Move forward because its too embarrassing for you all to admit you were all stupid af to be freaking out just because they got rid of Maldini, as if AC Milan cannot survive without this one player

            Now you are pretending like it wasnt that bad and I’m making things up

            nice gaslighting, it must be nice living in your head where you can just erase the dumb sh*t you do and dont like getting called out on it

          2. No i already said back then that i would come with my final judgement when the transfer window closed so that was always in the cards. I never said that milan couldnt survive without maldini so again you are making up stuff to fit your narrative.

            How because most people has moved onwards but you simply hasnt and you are pretty much just sounds like a broken record not that it comes as a surprise.

            gaslighting `? if anyone is gaslightinmg here its you because you keep avoiding my questions.

          3. Yes ofc you didnt say it and everyone else here was also pretty cool with it, it was all normal and everyone was happy with Maldini sacked, never overreacted at all right?

            What a nice cuckoo land you live in, I like how you think that because its in the past it doesnt matter anymore and you can act as dumb as you want because later on you can just say ‘omg just move on’ lmao

            you make so much stuff up, do you live in a mental hospital?

          4. You are such a clown i never denied being angry and even said so, so you are the clown here but the fact that you think you have a moral high ground and keeps avoiding answering my questions while saying im gaslighting while doing it yourself tells a great deal about you and the make belief world you live in yourself.
            All that while you on a daily basis drags the community down complaining about other complaing in june while you still do it yourself clearly you cant see the irony in that,

            Oh i make up stuff haha you are seriously mentally deranged yourself because you are “the”commenter on sempremilan who makes up the mst bs,

            If sempremilan had any decent moderators on this site you would have been permanently banned months ago and the majority of regular commenters propably would agree,

        2. I can testify that @Martin Bernhard is not one of those who overreacted in June. Both he and I still prefer Redbird over investcorp even when we didn’t like Maldini’s removal and/or Tonali’s sale.

          1. Thanks Yelnats24 appreciate it, i was furious and is still sad to lose both of maldini and tonali but we move forward as we always do.

  5. Pretty cool interview. He should have done this earlier. Also it’s great to see an owner giving such an in-depth interview. Unlike Berlusconi in the olden days (bought toys for us like it was Christmas and that was that lol) I prefer this way of doing things. It provides a better insight into the person rather than let media dictate who he is.

    Also, why the heck is there this big picture in the middle of the article with Gerry and Maldini and Massara on either sides. He barely touched on the subject and when he did mention Maldini it was a great ode to what his predecessors did for Milan 🤷‍♂️.
    Also it’s interesting to note that this really was his first transfer market. Last year was a shamble as the directors had to work without knowing who really owned the club and the direction between the two owners clearly differed. This is often not spoken about in terms of context on who we bought last year.
    The other thing to note is the whole idea around money Ball which as I’ve said many times before is being used incorrectly by media. Data analytics are used by many teams, there’s nothing special unless you have something the others don’t have and then that’s not money Ball either. Just competitive advantage.

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