Möller’s Corner: Gazidis makes ESL stance painfully clear – Maldini in the dark and UCL at risk

By Isak Möller -

In just 48 hours, the fans of football managed to shut down the proposed European Super League, putting immense pressure on the founding clubs. AC Milan were one of the sides that supposedly dropped out, but their statement leaves a lot to be desired. 

Let’s just get it out from the start: Elliott Management and Ivan Gazidis have done a good job with the club in the last few years, despite a few hiccups along the way. However, the path to success that we all envisioned is now very much in the unknown.

When we think of Milan and success, we think of the glory days when the club was at the very top in European football. Gazidis and Elliott, meanwhile, seem awfully keen on the European Super League to restore the club’s glory and put it back on the map.

The Super League, a tournament without any competition for the founding clubs, effectively serves as a way for these sides to collect large chunks of cash. The glory and prestige that we are all after, therefore, suddenly comes second in this project.

And in the midst of an extremely important Champions League race, now even more important since ESL has collapsed, Milan have handled the situation in the worst possible way. From failing to address the fans to leaving the management in the unknown.

After all, the Rossoneri’s target for many years now has been a return to the esteemed UCL, which would provide them with more financial safety. And this has been made clear by both the players and the management throughout the season.

Yet, out of nowhere, the Super League was announced and everything was turned upside down for a moment. Of course, this applies to all the clubs involved, but surely it had an effect on the players in such a crucial part of the season.

While a majority of the founding clubs realised their mistake – following pressure from both UEFA and the fans – and decided to withdraw, the same can’t be said about Milan. Despite all this, they haven’t actually dropped out from the tournament.

Their statement leaves a lot to be desired as the fans were expecting an apology and a step back, seeing as the ESL concept is absolutely ridiculous. Such a change, as mentioned, would render the Champions League useless and that goes against all the plans we have heard.

It wasn’t the response that we all wanted to see, especially in these times, as they ended the statement with: “We will continue to work hard to deliver a sustainable model for football”. Nothing, therefore, about actually leaving the contested tournament.

Florentino Perez, president of Real Madrid and chairman of the Super League, revealed that Milan are indeed among the teams still included in the project. And as a Milan fan, this couldn’t upset me more, once again with the timing completely off.

Yesterday’s clash against Sassuolo ended in disaster as the Rossoneri squandered a one-goal lead, eventually losing 1-2. The Champions League, as such, is thus at very big risk as the team might not make the top four this season either.

Financially, this would be a disaster for the club as they have been longing for this return. Gazidis seemed so keen on joining the ESL, with all the money it would guarantee, but he failed to account for what matters the most: competition.

Paolo Maldini, the technical director of Milan, was asked about the matter ahead of the game last night and revealed that he didn’t know anything about the ESL. Once again, therefore, Gazidis left the management in the dark.

“I would like to clarify that I have never been involved in discussions for the Super League, I learned about it on Sunday evening like all of you. This is something that was decided at a higher level than mine.

“There was confusion, it does not exempt me from taking the responsibility of apologising not only to the Milan fans but to the fans in general. Milan has always respected the principles of sport, it is something I feel like saying.

“We need to ask ourselves some questions, where can we go? Certainly not changing the principles of sport which are made up of principles, of meritocracy,” he stated.

Eye-opening words, to say the least. As mentioned, it’s not the first time this has happened as Gazidis held contacts with Ralf Rangnick for several months, while Maldini and Zvone Boban wanted to keep both their own jobs and Pioli’s.

We could be heading for yet another clash between a management member and Gazidis, who has been reckless ever since his arrival at the club. And reckless is perhaps the nicest way you can describe him in this situation, jeopardising so many things.

When the ESL was receiving incredible backlash from the fans, who did Gazidis address to explain the situation? That’s right, the club partners and not the fans, who remain in the dark as the statement published was absolutely ridiculous.

Yet, the fans deserve great praise for managing to put pressure on the clubs, subsequently resulting in the collapse of ESL. But Gazidis and Andrea Agnelli, for the revenue-minded people they are, refuse to stop at the first hurdle which is worrying.

Don’t get me wrong, for what the football world has become in recent years, you need strong directors that can pursue the interest of your club. But where do we draw the line? The club might be owned by Elliott, but without the fans it’s nothing.

Clearly, the whole ESL concept was against the beliefs of a majority of the fans, all keen on seeing the Rossoneri back competing in the Champions League. And not because of historical merit, but rather their sporting results, as it should be.

Therefore, the idea of abandoning the UCL already next season is near impossible to comprehend, and you can only imagine how the players felt. Does the season finale matter? Do we even need to finish in the top four? You get the point…

And now, with the ESL nowhere near inauguration, finishing top four is a must for Milan and Gazidis has to realise this. Maldini spoke rationally, with clarity and honesty, and it’s only lucky that the Rossoneri have this sane voice within the club.

What is said in the media does affect the players, anyone claiming differently is simply wrong, and this makes the ESL spectacle harder to understand. Even more so, Milan’s actions afterwards, with two senior members acting off different beliefs. And it could cost them dearly.

READ MORE: All parties agree on Ibrahimovic’s renewal with announcement imminent – the numbers

Tags AC Milan European Super League Ivan Gazidis Paolo Maldini


  1. Zsolt Bertalan says:

    Gazidis needs to be canned.Immediately.

  2. Spezzino says:

    Gazidis must go, and Elliott should sell the club

  3. qwerty says:


  4. Rossoneri says:

    The super League is not without any competition!
    Thats nonsense!!

    The problem is Uefa!! It has become such a strong power and has the grip so hard on football and the media too, that it reminds me of some countries that control the whole world agenda. You are eather with them, or against them. Dont have a choice. They want a big chunk of your pie or else they will find a way to ruin your country.

    Do you think that the clubs would play to get humiliated and only think about the profit.
    We are talking about the clubs with most trophies in europe put together in one league, they strive for trophies.
    Uefa is scared of becoming the midleman that there is no need for.

    1. SamsonNite says:

      I totally agree with that. I can’t see anything wrong with a new league. I’m from Denmark and about 10 years ago the Scandinavian top teams made they own league because they didn’t have competition in there own league. The league tried to invite Scotland too. The league survived in about 3 years. UEFA didn’t say nothing about it back then.
      And now everyone is against a super league even the Scandinavian countries.

    2. Kyle Ward says:

      It is without competition when the 12 founding members will always play no matter what and will always get the most money. I love Milan but I want them to play CL based on merit, because they qualified beating all the others team in Serie A, not because they couldn’t beat them and ran to create their own competition.

      I understand UEFA is frustrating but Milan and all these other teams built their history in the same manner, it’s all so dumb to destroy that.

      The reality of the super league is so simple. It’s clubs who build their history while competing but are now managed badly by business man who have no passion (look at barca and their almost bankruptcy now) and want more money to cover their inabilities. They also want a new trophy to call themselves the best while avoiding competing because they are scared of losing to shaktar

  5. Paulenes says:

    Gazidis and the owner should go resign

  6. Evert Delanoye says:

    You fail to see that football is a business and clubs are companies with a business model. Because of the current crisis, the business model of the big clubs is hit the hardest because they have the highest expenses. They need to act now to keep the business running. There’s no other way at the moment. The ESL would have given easy financial stability to those big clubs so why wouldn’t they go for it? UEFA financial fair play rules make it impossible for an investor to buy a club and keep it at the top, which was the precious business model of Milan under Berlusconi. Now you’re praising that hsitory, which was just as wrong and unfair to other clubs as the ESL. You say they forget about the fans, but what will the fans do if there’s no club left? The fans want to see their club fight for trophies but how can they do that when the best players are a toy of agents like Mino Raiola who play out the big clubs against each other (another merit of UEFA). It won’t help to have a good youth system because the same agents will circle around the best talents and lure them away. I think it’s pretty unfair to comment on the decision of Milan to join the ESL if you can’t propose a viable business alternative yourself. There’re no more players that will stay with the club to try and build something. There isn’t any youth that wants to become the next star of their favorite club. If you follow the money in the entire chain of football, you see the reality: UEFA = rich, players = rich, agents = rich, clubs = almost bankrupt. Do you really believe all these clubs are run by stupid people? They simply have no other options so you can expect more strange actions in the future. If Milan invests too much into the squad to get it back on top they’re punished by exclusion from UEFA competitions anyway. So why not take the 300 million from JP Morgan? And to all the smaller clubs complaining: if they would sell a player to an ESL club they would benefit financially as well. Be sure they would raise the prize. They don’t realize that if the bigger clubs can’t splash the cash on their players, they’re the next ones to suffer. Last of all you also forget to mention the very intelligent action of our president Scaroni to include in the ESL contract that Milan will only join if it isn’t against UEFA rules. His contribition is underrated and UEFA are mafia if they don’t take that into account. Guess what they’re going to do…
    The only thing I can agree on is that Gazidis is terrible at communication.

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