Editor’s note: With Keisuke Honda’s sale reportedly hinging on AC Milan ownership signing off on the deal, we thought it relevant to reach out to AC Milan Offside editor James Rushton for some insight into the changing ownership situation there.
I’d love to give a definitive answer or clear the air regarding AC Milan’s ownership, but frankly it’s not clear at all.
Silvio Berlusconi is currently the owner of AC Milan and has been for almost three decades. Late last year, he agreed to sell Milan to a Chinese consortium known as the ‘Sino-Europe’ group or the synecdoche of ‘The Chinese’ as the Italians like to say!
It’s a huge deal. Aston Villa, my hometown club, were bought by a Chinese group (RECON) for around about $100-125 million. The AC Milan deal could be as much as around six, seven or eight times that amount. It’s a huge purchase and this deal will even wipe the debt slate clean for Milan. We’re around maybe $200 million in debt? Who knows - it’s Silvio Berlusconi here.
We know that the ownership of Milan need to sign off on deals, and we’re heading with each passing second towards the early March transition to the ‘Sino-Europe’ group. I know this as it relates to the current contract negotiations with our young keeper - Gigio Donnarumma. You guys know this, because the sale of Keisuke Honda relies on the sign-off of ownership.
I bring up Donnarumma’s negotiations because currently it is on this weird ‘in-between’. Does Berlusconi’s regime want to tie up Donnarumma’s contract, or do Sino-Europe want to start negotiations when they take ownership of the club? Nobody knows and that’s scary because this takeover has been ongoing for months. I’ve experienced club takeovers in my life and they have been nowhere near as long-winded as this. Randy Lerner took about a month and a half to buy Villa and then RECON under Tony Jiantong Xia seemed to purchase Aston Villa after a negotiation stage of a few weeks.
I’ve been running the AC Milan Offside since the Fall and the story of this Sino-Europe group has been a massive cloud over AC Milan for the entire season. They were meant to purchase the AC Milan from Silvio Berlusconi’s ‘Fininvest’ on Dec. 13 and Silvo even threatened to pull the plug if there was a delay.
Well, there was a delay and the plug wasn’t pulled. Sino-Europe seemed to not be able to pull together the funds, gain approval from the Chinese state and apparently had shown a forged or fake bank statement during the negotiations. The deal was postponed until March 3, which would be at the back end of next week.
Thus far, I’ve got little faith in this deal being completed and I’m very hesitant to write up rumors about it as I’m currently on about four or five ‘AC Milan have been sold’ articles thus far.
As for Honda, I’m pretty sure the deal will go through if it’s signed off by Berlusconi as he should know we have no need for the player and if the worst case scenario does happen with the sale, it will surely be in Berlusconi’s remit. He’d look to shift Honda as Milan aren’t spending money under Silvio anymore.
If it’s Sino-Europe, who knows? We don’t know them or their plans. They like to talk a lot about the stars they want to buy, but what if they want Honda to stay to boost the Milan brand in Asia? That being said, maybe they want to make space for those stars? We got rid of Niang and he was playing on a regular basis so surely there’s no reason to keep Honda?
It is finances though, and if something is up, Honda might stay. That won’t be made clear to us right now though.
It’s question after question here and I’m sorry if I haven’t cleared it up. It should be a yes or no answer, but to be frank Milan don’t operate on that binary level.