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.