AC Milan CEO Ivan Gazidis has explained the battle that the club are facing in terms of Financial Fair Play and ensuring they are financially sustainable.
The chief executive arrived from Arsenal as part of the new ownership of American fund Elliott Management and instantly set about improving the club’s accounts by reducing unnecessary costs and spending money more efficiently.
Gazidis spoke to Sette – a weekly magazine in il Corriere della Sera – about various topics, beginning with an assessment of Financial Fair Play and whether it is a fair system for all clubs.
“Milan will have to answer a series of questions about their financial health in October. So yes, FFP still exists. We who wanted a sustainable football project were punished with a one-year suspension from European competitions. I accept it but the rules must be the same for everyone. Are they? You have to ask UEFA, its credibility is at stake,” he said (via MilanNews).
Gazidis also spoke about the issue of racism which has sadly reared its head again in Italian football, with Tiemoue Bakayoko and Mike Maignan both being the victim of racial abuse in recent weeks.
“Sometimes it’s easy to get depressed, but I remain optimistic: football is a fantastic example of inclusion that produces results and, at the same time, friendship. Kids who follow football see a Muslim for what he can do as a player and as a man. Kessie is not a black man, he is a hero.”
Despite Milan being a part of the 12 founding members of the short-lived European Super League project, Gazidis has revealed his belief that it wasn’t actually the right move for football, but the problems still remain.
“If the football crisis is real, the Super League was not the right answer, but when you are in difficulty you can also lose your clarity. The problems have remained and must be faced together – club, UEFA, FIFA – because the crisis has not passed and it is not time for anyone to declare victory. The issue of governance is fundamental: we must remember that everything is based on the clubs.”
“Effects of Covid? We haven’t seen it completely yet. I know people are returning to the stadium and you may think it’s all over, but that’s not the case. At Milan we don’t want to say no to ambitions, but to give the club the strength to build a successful independent future.
“People talk about 10 million as if it were not real money, but in the end you have to pay the bills: I want Milan to be strong enough to do it. Otherwise there is always a dream that needs to be saved, but this club must not be saved, but built. And if it is built well it will stand on its own and look ahead.
“I said from day one that it would be difficult, sometimes unpopular decisions are needed. But the fans are starting to understand the our model: two and a half years ago there was a lot of skepticism, inside and outside the team, now no, people support us.”
Gazidis continued on the theme of money, detailing how the landscape of football has changed in the past couple of decades.
“I don’t want to talk about the specific case, but I can tell you what is happening. Football no longer has benefactor owners. It is a model that it changed 30 years ago, with the arrival of TV rights money: lots of money, no cost controls,” he said.
“This continued to grow until it was no longer 10-20-30 million a year, but 100: many owners have had to back down, entire states have entered football. In this context, those who try to protect the club are seen as the devil, but they are not. It is easy to look good but put the team at risk.
“Then maybe you leave, and the team is left with problems. Those who say no are demonised and this creates great pressure to continue spending. But you can’t spend forever. Whoever says no is just brave enough to put the team ahead of them. Because the system began to break down. And then Covid arrived.”