AC Milan, Inter Hoping New Owners Can Restore Clubs To Their Former Glory
A decade ago, Italy "was champion of the world," AC Milan was champion of Europe and Inter Milan, its city rival, "was champion of Italy," according to Rory Smith of the N.Y. TIMES. Former AC Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso said in '07, "They said Italian football was in crisis. Well, the World Cup is here, and so is the European Cup." Italy "could lay claim" to being football's "greatest power, and the city of Milan was the engine behind it." Now, that seems like "a scene from another world." In retrospect, '07 "was not the start of a new era for Italy, but almost the final salvo of an old one." AC Milan has won only one championship in the decade since. Inter -- since winning a treble under José Mourinho -- Serie A, Coppa Italia, Champions League -- in '10, "has disappeared from view, too." That "fading luster reflects a broader decline." As "Milan has waned, so too has Serie A." Some "see Milan’s clubs as a symbol of that decay, too." In '16, the Suning group took control of Inter, and a year later, entrepreneur Li Yonghong -- supported by financing from an American hedge fund, Elliott Management -- completed his takeover of AC Milan, "ending Berlusconi’s 30-year tenure." AC Milan Managing Dir Marco Fassone: "The fact that both teams were sold to Chinese enterprises would have been unthinkable three years ago. It is something that is hard to imagine for a lot of Italians." Few, though, "doubted it was necessary." Both clubs "had been drifting for too long." This, many believed, was "the start of a transformation" not just for AC Milan and Inter, "but for Serie A, too." AC Milan’s ambition, "in particular, captured the imagination," as the club embarked on what Fassone called "the most aggressive" transfer market campaign that it could "muster." Fassone said, "You can speak, but people only trust your project when they see, every week for a month, you are presenting one or two new players." He said that he felt an "enthusiasm that had been lost" returning to the club. A crowd of 65,000 turned up to watch the "new-look team’s" first game of the season, an "unremarkable game in the first qualifying round of the Europa League." Fassone said, "It was a symbol that they are with us. Now the fans are dreaming again." Aldo Serena, a TV commentator who played for both teams, "holds out hope that Milan will find its feet, echoing the feeling of many" that it would benefit not just the city, but Italian football as a whole. He said, "Italy needs a strong Milan and a strong Inter. Italian football is worth much more in terms of television rights, internationally, with a strong Milan and Inter, because they have so many fans around the world" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/13).