AC Milan board member and Elliott Management portfolio manager Giorgio Furlani has spoken at length about the vision for the club and the new stadium project.
According to the business source Forbes (via MilanNews), Milan are in 14th place among all football clubs in terms of valuation with a value of €1.2bn and an increase of 115% in one year. Having Elliott Management as owners allowed the Rossoneri to return to a very strong financial position while the team on the field won the league for the first time in 11 years.
Furlani spoke during an interview with Forbes about the path that Milan have begun to trace and also about the work that is still to be done, with his comments relayed by SempreMilan.it.
“Initially the priority at a sporting level was to return to Europe, AC Milan for many years was not managed to reach the Champions League, which is the tournament in which everyone wants to play and Europe also serves to develop the brand,” he began.
“As a result, we had to fix this, resulting in improved performance and reduced costs. These two aspects generally don’t go together. We started developing the business plan with AC Milan, modifying the management team and the business area staff, hiring some members and then various highly talented executives from the world of consumer goods, entertainment, etc.
“Today we want to build a new stadium with Inter. San Siro is a stadium of great memories for the AC Milan fans, including myself; we are working on a project to have a new stadium: we want it to be among the best in European football.”
One of the foundations of Elliott’s plan for Milan has been the aim to build a new shared stadium with Inter that will be state of the art and would replace the ageing San Siro, opening up new revenue opportunities to close the gap with Europe’s elite, but progress has been slow.
“In Italy various clubs have difficulty in getting the stadium project off the ground; it is very important for the growth of a team to have a modern stadium. In the middle there is, however, the bureaucracy that has created so many problems for us,” Furlani admitted.
“I was hoping for a progressive, modern and forward-thinking city like Milan, where the approval process would be simpler, but it was rather complicated. However, we continued the project. Frankly, I hoped the project was almost done today, but it’s not. We will continue to push and we hope to give the Milan fans what they deserve, that is, a real model stadium in which their Club plays.”
Milan have always had a large brand in Europe and globally thanks to their history, but now the intention is to ‘awaken’ a sleeping giant through on-field success and commercial strategy.
“Milan has always had a lot of fans, it’s a fantastic brand that has fans all over the world who really care about the team. In recent years they have been a bit ‘dormant’ due to performances below the usual level on a sporting level that have not allowed them to play in the top European competition.
“This happens if you want results, but don’t have a business plan and people who are able to sell and grow the brand; so you don’t go anywhere. There was, therefore, a real need to improve performance to re-ignite the passion for Milan, but it had to be done with adequate management on the commercial side to be able, once sports performance was starting to improve, to return to being a strong brand. We need a combination of both.”
Finally, Furlani also talked about the prospects for growth given the challenges that the Covid period brought, and also given the fact the Rossoneri are still behind the elite in Europe.
“You may have a period in which you lose money because you do not qualify for European competitions and this derives from league seasons that have not ended positively; and yes, you may find yourself in some kind of bad vicious circle, but the reverse is also true.
“In my opinion the trick is: to win or, at least, have some degree of success, but not at all costs. Milan, historically speaking, belongs to the same group as Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, etc.
“Milan are among the big names in continental Europe, but as a club it comes from 8 years of difficulty in which it has lost relevance. We are now starting to bridge that gap. Now Milan are growing and are on a trajectory to catch up with those clubs and look, I could argue that yes, the past was difficult – as I said – but the future is very interesting and fun.”