Scaroni discusses Leao’s renewal, Maldini’s work and the two things Milan need to rejoin elite

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan president Paolo Scaroni still has faith that the team can win the Scudetto this season, while he named the two things needed to take the club and the league to the next level.

Scaroni has maintained his position as the president of the Rossoneri even with the change in ownership from Elliott Management to RedBird Capital, meaning he acts as a point on continuity from one project to the next.

He is currently in the United Arab Emirates as part of the Milan delegation that are in Dubai for the mid-season training camp that will also be an important strategic visit given the presence of sponsored such as the airline Emirates in the region.

Scaroni has given an exclusive interview to La Gazzetta dello Sport that they have published in today’s edition and he spoke about a number of different topics, with his comments relayed by PianetaMilan.

On whether Milan can win the Scudetto again: “I see everyone optimistic, from Paolo Maldini to Stefano Pioli. Why shouldn’t I be?”

On the darkest moment since he became president of Milan: “In the Chinese management I was in constant apprehension. For the loan, Elliott wanted me to represent him on the board of directors. A year of hell, the financial situation was always slightly below the required parameters, every intervention by Yonghong Li, even if a few million euros, arrived at the last available moment.

“We had to insist like crazy. At the final squeeze, when he couldn’t repay the debt and the club passed into Elliott’s ownership, I breathed a sigh of relief. There were other difficult moments, I am thinking of the 5-0 win in Bergamo, before experiencing these magical years.”

On Elliott who, at Milan, has combined economic sustainability and sporting competitiveness: “In Italy we set ourselves as a model. Elliott were a responsible shareholder who nevertheless made the necessary capital increases and invested heavy sums: over 700 million. They were a forerunner, in a certain sense obliged: all football will go like this, it is no longer the time of the President with a large portfolio.

“Financial Fair Play requires it: in Italy we consider it logical to ‘lose’ on the balance sheet, but it should be the opposite. Bayern Munich have been earning for almost thirty consecutive years. Football is a car, money is petrol. The ideological debate is sterile: football, the League, don’t want to pity anyone but they should. Out of money, the car crashes. You don’t compete, the system stops: to have ambitions you need resources.”

On how Milan can re-enter the European elite: “The Champions League is too important to ‘feed’ our 550 million supporters, a part of whom are also here in Dubai and the Emirates. It is almost more than a Scudetto. So my two battles are for the new stadium and for international TV rights.

“Usual example: if we earn 35-40 million a year from San Siro, Bayern collects at least three times as much. A beautiful, modern, full, illuminated stadium: a fundamental show for selling television rights abroad, and consequently for attracting sponsors.

“LaLiga receives four times what Serie A receives. Real Madrid, like us, have a partnership with Emirates, yet they collect much more because they are able to sell themselves better outside of Spain. As the others do: Premier League sells around the world for 2 billion, we for 200 million. We have to grow.”

On the timing for the new stadium in Milan: “The public debate has concluded and in a few weeks we are waiting for the report from the Municipality. If they suggest feasible changes, we will execute. If they ask for upheavals, no thanks.

“We thought of a different system, with two rings and developed vertically, to allow an optimal view from all positions: for this reason it could hold from 65,000 to 70,000 spectators. In parallel we follow other roads: a door to Sesto San Giovanni, but it is not the only one. Where it unlocks first, we’ll proceed.”

On the renovation of the current stadium in San Siro: “Technically impossible. There is no stadium as large, or even a little less, within thirty kilometers. When San Siro would become unusable, where do we move the teams?”

On Gerry Cardinale who embraces the mission of the new stadium as a priority: “Absolutely, more than all the others. Together with him we will make the final decision on where to go. He and his team are experts in the field, they helped build Yankee Stadium, plus Dallas and Cleveland. They have world-class background on the subject.

“Back to the point: new, full, alive stadiums are fundamental to the sports business model he intends. Not just football but entertainment: the match linked to other events, with the involvement of families.

“We have to understand that we are players not only in football but in the world of entertainment. An American vision of sport, which can generate further profits. Again, who better than him to accompany us in this new phase?

“He is a professional with an excellent curriculum. As a student he obtained the Rhodes Scholarship, the scholarship that for an American is an institution, the same one won by Bill Clinton and which takes you straight to Oxford.

“He’s a fan of all sports, he’s reserved but he says something about him. Had he not wanted to win a new challenge, he would have remained nice and quiet in Goldman Sachs. I like that he calls himself the club’s ‘keeper’.”

On relations with Maldini: “We are talking about an authentic legend. And of a good, pleasant person who has gradually slipped into the role of director. It is not so obvious, I would say quite the opposite. Like him, Pioli and Frederic Massara are excellent professionals and serious men. It’s our Milan style.”

On the possible renewal of Rafael Leao’s contract with Milan: “They tell me that in Milano and at Milan he is very happy, that he is motivated. I know that Maldini is negotiating and as far as I have just said, if he is negotiating, I’m calm.”

On Olivier Giroud’s performances and goals at the World Cup in Qatar: “Yes, and we’re very proud of it. Milan revitalised him, there is a bit of our merit also in France’s successes.”

Tags AC Milan Paolo Scaroni
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