AC Milan President Silvio Berlusconi has conceded that he could be forced to sell the club to foreign investors.
The 76-year-old, who has been chief of the Rossoneri since 1986, has insisted that he wants to keep the club ‘in the family’, but may have to seek outside investment.
“Foreign money in Milan? Only if I’m forced to do so,” he told ANSA. “But I want there to be conditions to such a thing.
“I’d love to keep Milan a family thing.
“I still remember when my father took me to the stadium and I did not have to pay for a ticket because I was so small.
“Watching football, seeing my heroes – I began to understand what it meant to the people.
“For me, Milan is in my heart. Over the years we’ve spent more and more money, perhaps too much.
“But this has allowed Milan to become the most successful team in the world.
“The club is a part of my family. My daughter Barbara is now part of the company, and I’d like to keep it that way.
“However, this does not mean that I’d instantly dismiss the idea of foreign investment.
“If the economic crisis continues, things may have to change.”
The issue for Milan fans is not whether Barbara or Milan vice-president Paolo Berlusconi, the younger brother of the club president, is capable of running the club. The issue is whether they have the deep pockets needed to do it.
With declining attendances and a small TV contract, Italian clubs receive less matchday and media revenue than the top teams in other top European leagues.
As a way to increase revenue, recently both Roma and city rivals Inter, have announced their own stadiums, in part to increase their share of matchday revenue.
That is not something that Berlusconi is able to do, especially after his media holding company Fininvest was hit with a European record fine of €560m in 2011 to a rival media group, CIR, over bribery allegations.
Selling might be only way that the Rossoneri can compete with the likes of Juventus, Inter and Roma in the future, who will all have a better cash flow that Milan within the next five or so years.