It has been almost one year since Gerry Cardinale and RedBird Capital Partners completed their €1.2bn takeover of AC Milan.
La Gazzetta dello Sport recall how it was back on 31 August 2022 that RedBird announced they had ‘completed the acquisition of Associazione Calcio Milan for 1.2 billion euros’ from Elliott Management after four years of management by the Singer family.
It was somewhat surprising from a timing perspective, considering that Milan had just won the league in the previous season and looked as though they could have benefitted from more stability.
What has changed in 12 months? The management continues to be based on self-sustainability, i.e. the desire to put together the needs of the field – therefore, of sporting success – with financial ones.
Cardinale spoke of Milan as a ‘sleeping giant’ and in order to further accelerate the growth of the club there was the desire to exploit the presence of having so many fans around the world, by combining sporting performance – which obviously remains the cornerstone – with entertainment content.
During the 12 months of Cardinale, Milan evolved in all aspects. In practice, he took over the club when the season had just started, with a victory in the derby against Inter three days after the closing being a very good start.
The Rossoneri were unable to repeat the Scudetto win – which Cardinale had celebrated in Piazza Duomo like a fan – but they were in the final four of the Champions League which represented a big step forward in Europe.
The continuation of the virtuous circle started by Elliott – which has begun to generate important and vital cash flows for the club’s finances – was seen as important.
Milan closed their last accounts on 30 June 2023 with a profit of around €10m, something that hadn’t been seen since 2006. It is worth remembering the record loss of €196m after the 2019-20 season.
Things are always looking forward in terms of turnover, which will exceed €350m after remaining below €240m for years. The sporting results – Scudetto plus fixed participation in the Champions League – have obviously benefited, but additional work was needed.
Cardinale is a businessman with an infinite number of high-level contacts and strategic relationships in the US market, as seen with the various partnerships embarked on to grow the brand around the world.
There were some uncomfortable choices too, like the sacking of Paolo Maldini and Ricky Massara which seemed an earthquake at the time – as did the sale of Sandro Tonali – but after nine signings arrived and the squad depth improved, some doubters have become believers.
Finally, we come to the new stadium. In addition to boosting commercial revenues, he has also been pushing for a new Milan-only home, with the most advanced and constructive discussions ongoing with the Council of San Donato at the moment.