The Athletic: Inter’s dire financial situation compared to Milan – ‘The clock is ticking’

By Oliver Fisher -

The rough financial situation of AC Milan’s city rivals Inter has been laid bare by an article that explores the recent trends and the concerns for the future.

As James Horncastle writes for The Athletic, current Roma and ex-Inter boss Jose Mourinho stated that Inter ‘should win the league by 20 points’ and given they are top of the league they are currently on course for a 20th league title.

However, it seems difficult to see them sustaining a run of silverware given their economic situation is a ticking timebomb. Even last season when they made the Champions League final  for the first time in 13 years, the club still made an €85m loss.

That is down from €140m in 2022 and €245.6m – a Serie A record – in 2021, but it is described as a ‘jaw-dropping figure’ and Horncastle asks: “If that’s the kind of money Inter lose in an extraordinary season, what about an ordinary one?”

He highlights how Milan posted a €6.1m profit for the 2022-23 season by comparison, and that is without including the capital gain from Sandro Tonali’s sale to Newcastle, for a fee in the region of €70m.

Not only that, but Inter’s debts are soon to catch up with them. In May, one of the Luxembourg-based shell companies Suning Holdings Group uses to control Inter (Grand Tower) is due to repay a loan it received in 2021 from asset management firm Oaktree Capital.

They kept the Nerazzurri breathing when Covid-19 threatened to the club under, but what’s in it for Oaktree is the 12 per cent interest rate which means the outstanding amount is now up to €329m.

Horncastle writes that ‘the time on Inter’s oxygen supply is almost up and that loan must either be repaid or refinanced, or the club is sold – otherwise, Oaktree can turn the outstanding debt into equity and repossess it’

Shortly after that loan, Zhang’s father resigned as chairman of Suning and lost control of the company following a government-led bailout. His net worth fell from $8.4bn in 2020 to $345m, as per the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Zhang Jindong’s last visit to Milan was four years ago which is pre-lockdown, while the article notes that Gerry Cardinale is a constant presence in Italy. Milan’s owner was at San Siro to watch the win over Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League – his fourth game of the season – for example.

This lack of presence in Italy and uncertainty over Inter’s finances has seen the idea of a joint stadium project go cold, as has the fact that San Siro is now a listed building and cannot be part-demolished as the ‘Cattedrale’ plans dictated.

Back in 2021, the Mayor of Milano Beppe Sala spoke about the stadium and used the interesting phrase ‘until Inter’s destiny is cleared up’ and added ‘I cannot entrust a district of the city, for such a long period, to companies whose future ownership is not certain’.

Milan are now going it alone outside the city limits in San Donato and the club’s CEO, Giorgio Furlani, hopes Milan’s own stadium will be ready in five years.

Meanwhile, Zhang is under scrutiny. The Certification of Capability in Business Analysis’ (CCBA) legal team states he not own any property or real estate in China or Italy or receive a salary. On social media, he shows off the luxury cars and watches worth more than $9.5m that he owns.

Thus, the CCBA’s legal team suspect that ‘Zhang apparently hides his assets through shell companies and other nominees’. On the eve of the Champions League final, Zhang said the ‘intention is to renegotiate the loan’ with Oaktree.

Rumours of Inter being up for sale have regularly been denied, but Raine – the bank that sold Chelsea and is overseeing the sale of a stake in Manchester United – apparently have a mandate to find a buyer for Inter and have done for more than a year.

Zhang knows he could lose the club in a repossession by Oaktree so would probably rather sell, but he would not get the €1.2bn Milan got for a number of different reasons.

Firstly, despite the exits of players like Samir Handanovic and Edin Dzeko, the average age of Inter’s squad is 29.8 year. They have 10 players aged 30 or over, five of whom are starters, so some big investment will be needed to refresh that, though Beppe Marotta has done a good job of working under constraints.

Building a new stadium is more expensive in the current economic climate and there remains a doubt about where Inter would build it, with Rozzano a touted location.

Then there is the club’s debt load. They refinanced a €415mm bond with an annual interest rate of 6.75%, meaning the total liabilities are a lot to take on for any prospective new buyer. If Zhang is unable to sell, refinance or repay the money, Oaktree can enforce the debt and take over.

It is not too dissimilar to what Elliott Management did with Milan in 2018 and they showed that a private equity fund can actually turn a football club around, yet this goes against the norm and there must be doubts that Oaktree would do the same.

The report finishes as follows: “For now, Inter remains in the hands of Suning. The question is: for how much longer? May 20, 2024, is when the Oaktree loan matures. The clock is ticking.”

Tags AC Milan


  1. As a fan of Italian football, it will be terrible if they do go under, as it removes a storied club from the ranks of the league. As a fan of Milan… HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Be nice to say hello to Cinter or Dinter fans. Considering what a bunch of actual doses they are, it couldn’t happen to nicer people.

  2. With such a relatively old squad, should we expect Inter to start getting their own injury epidemic in the second half of the season? Followed by a drop off in form?
    They were lucky in getting an easy Champions League group, but that ends once knockout rounds start – they will have to play their regular starters more.

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