Scaroni discusses new stadium plans, RedBird ownership and Serie A TV rights deal

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan president Paolo Scaroni spoke at a business event today about the club’s transfer in ownership and the future of the league in terms of new stadiums and TV rights.

Scaroni spoke at the M&A Summit event today, organised by Il Sole 24 Ore, with the theme ‘Mergers and acquisitions in Italy, large investors, the areas concerned and protagonists of the sector’.

He had a few things to say about the upcoming Champions League clash with Napoli, given that their president Aurelio De Laurentiis was also on the stage with him, and his comments were relayed by MilanNews.

“I agree 95% with what De Laurentiis said. I come from a world where I judge people by results and De Laurentiis has created incredible value with Napoli. Then he will comment on that 5% in reference to funds…” he began.

On AC Milan’s move from Elliott to RedBird: “Elliott found themselves the owners of Milan because they had lent money to the old shareholder, they hadn’t pursued the purchase of the club; they had it as a guarantee.

“Then they entrusted professionals with bringing Milan back to an economic and then sporting balance and all of this succeeded in an unexpected way, above all for the sporting results. My credit for the Scudetto is zero: it arrived because the people who work there are good.

“From an economic point of view, we did well. I was on the Board of the AC Milan with Yonghong Li to protect the money lent by Elliott, at the time we got less than 200 million in revenues, while this year we’ll be at 350.

“Elliott came out satisfied, making a profit typical of what hedge funds do and selling Milan to a fund with different objectives, a professional in sport, with interventions and growth actions for Milan other than Elliott in mind.

“It’s a new phase. There are a whole series of professionals around us who help us. We look to the future with optimism. In football there are two mountains to climb at the same time: that of sporting results and that of economic results, which are connected to each other and between which we need to keep a balance.”

On television rights: “I agree that the ideal would be not to sell anything, but for us to manage our customers. For decades, Lega Calcio gave the television rights to a gentleman who took care of everything, so within the Lega there was no ‘is this competence’.

“For historical and logical reasons, the Lega has such a complicated governance that it is not easy to understand how to intervene on these issues. I’m not even here dreaming of the funds entering…

“Every now and then I hope that the entry of some funds, perhaps with a loan, is a catalyst for us to be given simpler governance than the one we have lived with for so many years.”

On the new stadium: “Having an American shareholder creates a significant problem of translating our habits. I find it hard to explain the Italian dynamics on the stadium to those who don’t experience them.

“Then when everything seems fine there is an appeal to the TAR and the times are incredible. I’ve been talking about stadiums for 4 years and even the obvious things become topics of debate.

“Why can’t San Siro be restructured? What are you talking about? It’s not the Scala del Calcio, but it’s an old and obsolete thing. Have you ever seen stadiums? Because you can’t renovate San Siro.

“Milan and Inter play so many matches and how can you carry out massive renovations in a stadium where at least 50,000 people enter every 3-4 days?! Then, unfortunately, near Milan there is no there is a stadium where we can play in the period needed for the works.

“We cannot, therefore, renovate the San Siro and there is a debate around this that continues today and I find it incredible. We have a law for building stadiums: with this law we won’t do a damn thing.

“We need an emergency law that will make us overcome these obstacles or we will always have old, obsolete and dangerous stadiums. Stadiums must be beautiful, illuminated and full. The stadium also plays a role in attracting television audiences…

“Milan have 500 million fans worldwide, but I want a Chinese from Shanghai, who is not a fan of Milan and Inter, to say: ‘Oh how beautiful, I watch Milan-Inter because I enjoy it’. We should do like the Premier League: attending a show, the stadium is a part of the show, how we play is a part of the show. In this way, we would have revenue to make our football competitive.”

On the quarter-finals of the Champions League against Napoli: “Match predictions aren’t part of my repertoire. Exceptionally, I’ll go to see Napoli-Milan away… I don’t even go to Inter-Milan, because I don’t want to see these unfamiliar colours.” De Laurentiis replies: ‘Even I won’t go to Milan’.”

Tags AC Milan Paolo Scaroni
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