The derby between Inter and AC Milan is not just a battle between two sides of the city, but also two ownerships with very different ideas on how to run a club.
La Gazzetta dello Sport analyses the fixture by first of all recalling the Chinese-flavoured derby when it was the Zhang family against Li Yonghong back on the eve of Easter in 2017, when the game was staged at 12:30 CET to favour the huge Chinese audience.
Since then Milan took another path, profoundly different and certainly much more virtuous under the American hedge fund Elliott Management, while the Zhangs and Suning are still at the helm, so it will be them versus the Singers.
Suning have led Inter for almost six years and have invested a figure of just under €700m to date. The first €128m were needed to take over the majority shares from Erick Thohir, then another €142m were immediately needed for the first capital increase, but it was a symbol of their ambition.
Elliott took over Milan in July 2018 from Mr. Li, defaulting in the end over only €32m, but at the end of a management in which the latest capital increases had been a slow and painful agony. The Singer family saw the accounts in a real mess, and they began by cutting the total salaries from €129m gross in 2018-19 to €79m now.
The latest budget shows losses basically halved to around €96m, while the fund have put €560m into the Rossoneri’s coffers, with a total investment of €740m.
The Nerazzurri owners intervened on the sporting level in a massive way and spared no expense, especially in the first three seasons when the likes of Gabigol and Joao Mario arrived for a combined €70m. Since, they have built around players like Brozovic, Skriniar, Bastoni, De Vrij, Lukaku, Eriksen, Sanchez, Hakimi, Barella and Sensi (€100m spent just on the last three), which won them the title last season.
The pandemic and other factors meant Inter recorded a €246m loss in the last financial year – the highest single-season loss in Serie A history – but after selling Lukaku and Hakimi they still went out and bought Dumfries, Correa, Calhanoglu and Dzeko, with Gosens and Caicedo coming in January to confirm Suning’s willingness to continue investing to keep the team competitive.
Elliott moves with much more prudence, because they want to get the accounts in order. They spent around €75m in the summer – the club that spent the most on the market after Roma – but they remained fixed in their stance to not overpay for players and only invest in those that convince them.
Looking at the future, Inter issued €415m in bonds that refinances the previous bonds with maturity at the end of 2022 and guarantees Inter full operational capacity for the next two years. The new bonds issued have a maturation of 2027 with an interest rate close to 7%, but that is when the stadium should open guaranteeing around €100m a year.
In terms of business, the Nerazzurri are targeting young Italian talent like Scamacca, Frattesi, Raspadori, Parisi, Cambiaso and Viti.
The stadium is big for Inter too: higher revenues make the club more club attractive and competitive on the market when the time comes to sell the club. The more short-term vision is that there are bigger investments planned for the summer window, but it becomes easier to make sacrifices now with greater optimism and security on the horizon in the future.